The term dementia encompasses disease states that impair memory and result in a decline in cognitive function. These conditions seem to be affecting more of the population as it is expected to affect 14 million people aged 65 and older by 2060, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Ellen Kramarow, lead author of the new report and a health statistician for the Aging and Chronic Disease Statistics Branch for the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the CDC, explained that one cause of the rising number of deaths due to dementia in the United States States are most likely due to the aging population. "If people live longer, they do not die of other causes, so they live to the point where the risk for dementia is higher," she said.
Researchers used data from death certificates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They examined four types of dementia recognized by the International Classification of Diseases: Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, unspecified dementia and other degenerative diseases of the nervous system.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for 46% of the 261
,914 deaths due to dementia in the United States in 2017. A finding that supports the need for ongoing research on Alzheimer's disease , Kramarow said.
Although the cause of Alzheimer's disease is not completely understood, researchers are gaining a better understanding of how it affects the brain. The disease destroys neurons, cells responsible for communication throughout the brain.
Dr. Chad Hales, assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Neurology, who was not involved in the report, explained that diagnosing dementia begins with a good clinical history and examination, brain imaging and lab studies to ensure that no other conditions are causing the symptoms
Unfortunately, however, "the current gold standard is postmortem diagnosis with neuropathological confirmation," he said. Alzheimer's disease can be definitively diagnosed after a patient dies looking at sections of the brain under a microscope which can reveal the presence of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, structures in the brain unique to this disease. ” data-src-mini=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-small-169.jpg” data-src-xsmall=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-medium-plus-169.jpg” data-src-small=”http://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-large-169.jpg” data-src-medium=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-exlarge-169.jpg” data-src-large=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-super-169.jpg” data-src-full16x9=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-full-169.jpg” data-src-mini1x1=”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190306132816-combination-hrt-restricted-small-11.jpg” data-demand-load=”not-loaded” data-eq-pts=”mini: 0, xsmall: 221, small: 308, medium: 461, large: 781″ src=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7″/>
As with any disease, the progression varies. "Alzheimer's disease causes degeneration of brain cells, and this leads to the outward symptoms you see on a day-to-day basis," Hales said. "These include problems early on with short-term memory and later problems with speaking and executive dysfunction, like managing cell phones, medications, and finances."
As well as depression or other neuropsychiatric symptoms, like hallucinations. the disease progresses, the symptoms usually become more apparent. According to the National Institute on Aging, it starts with parts of the brain responsible for memory, like the hippocampus, and works its way to the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for critical thinking and perceiving information. The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease typically appear in patients in their mid-60s and often present as memory loss.
"Age is the greatest risk factor," Hales said, noting that as people age, they are more at risk of developing dementia.
The death rates associated with dementia more than doubled in 85- to 89-year-olds, compared with 90- to 94-year-olds, according to the report. Reflective of the affected population, 60.4% of deaths due to dementia in 2017 occurred in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, or hospice facilities designed for end-of-life care
fully comprehensive. "There is no way to know from the death certificate alone," Kramarow said.
This report has been published on the death certificate. highlights that, although Alzheimer's disease contributes to many deaths in the United States, the other types of dementia should not be forgotten
Regardless of the form, Hales said, "The most important thing to recognize is that you are not alone." There are so many people affected by this disorder, but at times, patients and families feel isolated. past the stigma of this disease and recognize there are others out there who may be able to help or provide insight into the disease and the symptoms that it causes. "