New US study shows East and Southeast have highest Alzheimer’s cases.

New US study shows East and Southeast have highest Alzheimer's cases.

Study Reveals County-level Estimates of Alzheimer’s Disease in the United States

Alzheimer’s Disease

A groundbreaking new study has provided the first-ever county-level estimates of Alzheimer’s disease prevalence in the United States. The research reveals that the East and Southeast regions have the highest rates of Alzheimer’s dementia, a statistic attributed to their higher percentages of older individuals, as well as Black and Hispanic residents.

The study encompassed all 3,142 counties in the U.S., presenting a comprehensive overview of the disease’s impact across the nation. “These new estimates add more granular data to our understanding of Alzheimer’s prevalence across the country,” noted Kumar Rajan, a professor of internal medicine at Rush Medical College in Chicago. He emphasized the significance of this information, stating that it can assist public health programs in better allocating resources towards caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Data for the study was collected from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, combined with U.S. government population estimates. Notably, the counties with the highest rates of Alzheimer’s among seniors (aged 10,000 or higher) include Miami-Dade County, Florida; Baltimore City, Maryland; and Bronx County, New York, all with a prevalence rate of 16.6% each. Other notable counties with high rates of the disease include Prince George’s County, Maryland (16.1%); Hinds County, Mississippi (15.5%); Orleans Parish, Louisiana (15.4%); Dougherty County, Georgia (15.3%); Orangeburg County, California (15.2%); and Imperial County, California, and El Paso County, Texas, both at 15%.

Age serves as a primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The study authors highlighted that older Black Americans are approximately twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementias compared to older white Americans. Similarly, older Hispanic adults are about 1.5 times more likely to be affected by these conditions than their white counterparts. Rajan emphasized that the estimates are based on cognitive and demographic characteristics, as Alzheimer’s dementia is a multifactorial disease influenced by various factors that contribute to its prevalence.

The statistics paint a concerning picture, with approximately 6.7 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, the West and Southwest regions are projected to experience the largest percentage increase in Alzheimer’s cases between 2020 and 2025.

The significance of these prevalence estimates lies in their ability to help federal and state public health officials gauge the burden on the healthcare system. More specifically, county-level estimates allow for a better understanding of areas with high risk and high need, where culturally sensitive health support and caregiver training services become imperative. Matthew Baumgart, the Vice President of Health Policy for the Alzheimer’s Association, emphasized the necessity of a larger workforce trained in diagnosing, treating, and caring for those affected by the disease.

These findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and simultaneously published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association, news release, July 17, 2023

Alzheimer’s Quiz

Question: One of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is __________________.

Answer: Memory loss.