Alzheimer’s incidence projected to triple by 2050

The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to swell to nearly 14 million in the next 40 years, according to a study published online Feb. 6 in Neurology.

Liesi E. Herbert, ScD, from the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues sought to update previous estimates of Alzheimer’s disease incidence in the U.S.

The researchers analyzed information from 10,802 African-American and Caucasian people living in Chicago, ages 65 and older, between 1993 and 2011. The researchers interviewed and assessed participants for dementia every three years. Age, race and level of education were factored into the research.

The data were combined with U.S. death rates, education and current and future population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The study found that the total number of people with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2050 is projected to be 13.8 million, up from 4.7 million in 2010. Approximately 7 million of those with the disease would be age 85 or older in 2050.

“Our detailed projections use the most up-to-date data, but they are similar to projections made years and decades ago. All of these projections anticipate a future with a dramatic increase in the number of people with Alzheimer’s and should compel us to prepare for it,” Jennifer Weuve, ScD, also from Rush, said in a press release.

“[T]hese projections emphasize the need to find either prevention or treatment for AD dementia in order to decrease the burden of future disease on individuals, families and the medical system,” the researchers wrote. However, they pointed out it would take time for an intervention to decrease prevalence of the disease.