An estimated 850,000 British people suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's has become the leading cause of death for both men and women ahead of heart disease, according to figures from the research group. Over a period of 15 years between 2000 and 2015, rate of Alzheimer's related deaths have risen by 123 percent whereas the rate of death due to heart disease has fallen by 11 percent.
The findings, available March 21 in the journal Neuron, could lead to new treatments for Alzheimer's, based on targeting the production of tau.
"Out of the top 10 chronic diseases, we are the only one that doesn't have a cure or a way to slow it down", Cindy Miller, a Dementia Care Specialist, said. That doesn't include the burden that falls on unpaid caregivers such as family and friends, who past year provided 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care-which the report estimated to be the financial equivalent of $232.1 billion. To illustrate, the report noted that in 2017, 16 million Americans provided about 18.4 billion hours of unpaid care.
Along with the increasing costs, the report also found Alzheimer's to be increasingly lethal. Besides this, around 5.5 million American who were aged around 65 years are diagnosed with the disease and there are 200,000 people who are less 65 years of age.
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While researchers have long known that tau levels are elevated in the brains and cerebrospinal fluid of Alzheimer's patients, "until this study, we didn't know if tau production was increased or if clearance was decreased", coauthor Chihiro Sato, a researcher in neurologist Randall Bateman's lab at Washington University School of Medicine, says in a statement. He added that with this rate of growth, rising number of deaths, lack of cure, and huge costs to the society, this burden of Alzheimer's disease is only going to worsen.
"With over 1 million people expected to be living with dementia in the UK by 2025, we have a duty to ensure that people with dementia and their families can benefit from innovations in new treatments in the coming years", said Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer's Research UK. This impact of dementia caregiving is estimated to have resulted in $11.4 billion in health care costs in the United States in 2017.
Forty-one percent of caregivers have a household income of $50,000 or less. Nearly two thirds of Americans with the disease are women. In the second year, the total payments for the care of Alzheimer's patients will reach to the quarter of a trillion dollars that includes a total increase of $20 billion from last year. Compared with caregivers of people without dementia, twice as many caregivers of those with dementia indicate substantial emotional, financial and physical difficulties. The study found that the average projected cost of health and long-term care for an individual with Alzheimer's can range from $360,000 - $424,000.