Currently, 26.6 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease and that number could grow to more than 100 million people by 2050, a new analysis suggests.
More than 40 percent of those 100 million Alzheimer's patients will have late-stage disease that requires a high level of care, such as that provided in nursing homes, researchers add.
"The number of people affected by Alzheimer's disease is growing at an alarming rate, and the increasing financial and personal costs will have a devastating effect on the world's economies, health-care systems and families," William Thies, the US Alzheimer's Association's vice president of medical and scientific relations, said in a prepared statement.
The findings were to be presented Sunday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia, in Washington, D.C.
Using United Nations worldwide population forecasts and data on Alzheimer's prevalence, researchers created a multi-state mathematical computer model. The team was led by Ron Brookmeyer, a professor of biostatistics and chairman of the Master of Public Health Program at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
The computer model also indicated that:
- Delaying Alzheimer's disease onset by one year would reduce the number of Alzheimer's cases in 2050 by 12 million.
- Delaying both Alzheimer's onset and progression by two years would reduce the number of cases by 18 million. Most of that decrease - 16 million cases - would involve late-stage cases the require the most intensive care.
"A global epidemic of Alzheimer's disease is coming. However, even modest advances in preventing Alzheimer's or delaying its progression can have a huge global public health impact," Brookmeyer said.
And Thies noted that several new drugs currently in clinical trials show great promise in slowing or halting Alzheimer's progression. Such new treatments, combined with advances in diagnostic methods, could help lessen the global impact of Alzheimer's disease. – (HealthDayNews)