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Number of Americans with Alzheimer's could double by 2060: study

Xinhua,December 08, 2017 Adjust font size:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- As America's population ages, the number of Americans with Alzheimer's dementia or mild cognitive impairment will double from 6 million this year to 15 million in 2060, a new study said Thursday.

The findings highlight the need to better identify people who have indications of neuropathological changes that could eventually lead to the brain disease and develop measures to slow its progression, said the study in the peer-reviewed Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.

To project the future prevalence of Alzheimer's in the United States, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined existing large studies on rates of progression of the disease and used that information to create a computer model that took into account the aging of the U.S population.

They found that by 2060 about 5.7 million Americans will have mild cognitive impairment, an intermediate clinical stage that does not yet meet the threshold for dementia.

In comparison, today about 2.4 million Americans are estimated to be living with mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease.

Another 9.3 million are projected to have dementia due to Alzheimer's by 2060, the study said.

Of those with dementia, about 4 million Americans will need an intensive level of care similar to that provided by nursing homes.

"There are about 47 million people in the U.S. today who have some evidence of preclinical Alzheimer's, which means they have either a build-up of protein fragments called beta-amyloid or neurodegeneration of the brain but don't yet have symptoms," Ron Brookmeyer, professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the study's lead author, said in a statement.

"Many of them will not progress to Alzheimer's dementia in their lifetimes. We need to have improved methods to identify which persons will progress to clinical symptoms, and develop interventions for them that could slow the progression of the disease, if not stop it all together." Enditem