Alzheimer’s disease was named by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, who first identified the disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is a general term used for neurodegenerative disorders that cause progressive cognitive decline. This includes problems with reasoning, communication, memory, speech, judgment, and many other aspects of daily functioning.
The symptoms manifest through several stages and interfere with the everyday lives of patients and their families. In the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, patients can completely cease responding to their surroundings, lose control over movement, and have difficulties eating and swallowing.
We’ve collected some of the most vital Alzheimer’s disease facts and statistics on the subject. After you’ve read them, you should be properly informed about the disease and be able to differentiate between Alzheimer’s and other related conditions.
Key Stats and Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
- 0.71% of the population has Alzheimer’s.
- Alzheimer’s makes up 60%–70% of the total cases of dementia.
- 65% of those with dementia are women.
- It’s rare for someone to get Alzheimer’s merely because of a genetic predisposition.
- The brains of healthy people are bigger than Alzheimer’s patients’ brains.
- The range of a person’s education can prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.
- Finland has the highest rate of deaths from Alzheimer’s.
- Someone in the world develops Alzheimer’s every 3 seconds.
- Alzheimer’s progresses through 7 known stages.
- Medications used for type 2 diabetes can prevent Alzheimer’s.
Quick Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
1. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s are caused by specific protein deposits inside the brain.
In comparison to the brain of a healthy person, the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient has fewer synapses and nerve cells. Under a microscope, the brain tissue of a patient is characterized by an atypical protein buildup known as plaque. In addition, there are so-called tangles, i.e., twisted strands of another type of protein inside dead nerve cells. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the statistics and data show that these are the source of a patient’s Alzheimer’s symptoms.
2. Alzheimer’s makes up 60%–70% of the total cases of dementia.
According to the World Health Organization, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. The second most frequent type is Lewy body dementia, which has similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s but the protein deposits developing in the nerve cells are different. Unlike Alzheimer’s patients, Lewy patients experience some Parkinson’s-like symptoms.
3. The life expectancy of an Alzheimer’s patient varies between 3 and 11 years from the time of diagnosis.
How long can you live with Alzheimer’s? Because there are no rules to the progression of the disease, it’s hard to determine a precise timeline.
4. The onset of Alzheimer’s may have something to do with your lifestyle.
As opposed to common misconceptions, neurological diseases aren’t necessarily genetically conditioned. Actually, the global percentage of Alzheimer’s cases caused by specific genetic mutations that predispose someone for this illness is surprisingly low, at around 1%. Instead, lifestyle factors like high blood pressure, poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, smoking, or smoke exposure are possible contributors.
5. You are less likely to get Alzheimer’s if you’re an educated person.
Definitely one of the most interesting facts about Alzheimer’s is how continued education plays a preventive role. Of course, we don’t necessarily imply formal education, but keeping your brain active and eager to absorb new information even your late years should lower your chances of getting Alzheimer’s. Hence, even if you’re in your fifties, don’t hesitate to take language classes, learn to paint, or take up knitting—it might be a literal lifesaver.
6. Half of those with Alzheimer’s actually have mixed pathologies, which combine the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease statistics suggest that this form of cognitive impairment isn’t as rare as it was thought. Patients with this condition usually have brain lesions characteristic of people with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, etc. The incidence of this pathology is the highest in people older than 85.
7. Alcohol can make symptoms worse.
Alzheimer’s patients are asked to avoid alcohol, since it can accelerate the disease’s progress while affecting a patient’s memory and behavior the same way it affects a healthy person’s. It’s not strictly prohibited to drink a glass of wine on a special occasion, but the facts on Alzheimer’s disease from the Alzheimer’s Society indicate that heavy consumption might further shorten a patient’s lifespan.
8. The brain of an Alzheimer’s patient is smaller in size compared to the brain of a healthy person.
Put beside scans of healthy brains, Alzheimer’s patients’ brains show significant shrinkage. As put forward by Everyday Health’s research from 2015 into Alzheimer’s disease, the facts and figures indicate that this phenomenon is caused due to nerve cells degenerating and dying out over time. This, in turn, leads to reduced brain volume.
9. Brain lesions can be revealed even 3 decades before the onset of most typical Alzheimer’s symptoms.
According to a study conducted on nearly 300 participants by scientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, there’s some hope for the future of Alzheimer’s. Namely, there’s a possibility that doctors could diagnose Alzheimer’s by means of certain measurable physical changes inside spinal fluid and through brain scans, even 30 years before the symptoms are detected by patients.
10. Medications that treat diabetes have several neuroprotective effects.
Type 2 diabetes itself increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. However, Alzheimer’s statistics from 2019 claim that there are some conditions under which Alzheimer’s might be looked at as a metabolic disorder, like diabetes. Because of this, the medications used for type 2 diabetes treatment may actually protect the brain.
11. Everyday drowsiness isn’t always a benign symptom.
Excessive sleepiness is a fairly common occurrence, and its most common triggers are quite well-known. Some of them are stress, an inactive lifestyle (and an overly active, as well), lack of certain nutrients, anemia, sleep apnea, hypotension, etc. However, the findings have shown that Alzheimer’s patients with abnormal sleeping patterns (including too much daytime sleeping) have protein deposits in brain areas that are in charge of wakefulness.
12. About 5% of Alzheimer’s patients get the disease in their 40s or 50s.
When does Alzheimer’s start? The majority of Alzheimer’s cases have been recorded in individuals older than 65. However, a certain number of people (according to data, about 5%) have the condition known as early-onset Alzheimer’s, which they usually get in their forties or fifties.
13. Progress continues in finding the best treatment for Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease with a fatal outcome. However, while there is no definite Alzheimer’s cure according to the statistics on Alzheimer’s, there are medicines that keep symptoms under control and slow down the disease’s progression. It’s important to emphasize that scientists are still searching for new treatment options. One of these potential treatments is based on stimulating the cells’ self-cleansing system to fight plaque and tangles in the brain.
14. The causes of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease are linked to genetic factors.
But what is the largest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease? We already know that lifestyle plays a major role in the cases not directly linked to early-onset Alzheimer’s. However, the most problematic risk factors for Alzheimer’s are the so-called non-modifiable risks. What does this mean in practice? Well, modifiable risks include factors we can avoid or control—such as physical activity, smoking, nutrition, etc. However, there are circumstances we have little or no power over, like our genetics and family history. Because they can’t be controlled, they pose a high risk.
Alzheimer’s Stats in the US
15. A 2016 study estimates that there was a 71% increase in the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s in the US.
This 2016 report suggests that from 2000 to 2013, there was a terrifying increase in the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s across the country. According to additional data from 2016, every 66 seconds someone’s brain manifests Alzheimer’s symptoms in the US.
16. Around 5.5 million people in the US have Alzheimer’s.
(Alzheimer’s & Dementia)
According to some of the 2017 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures, this number is expected to grow to 13.8 million. Moreover, it’s predicted that by 2050, a new case of Alzheimer’s among US populations could emerge every 33 seconds—twice as often as the current statistics show.
17. A recent study found that Alzheimer’s may be responsible for more than 500,000 annual deaths in the United States.
(Bright Focus Foundation)
The 2019 Alzheimer’s disease statistics on mortality are quite disturbing. According to this study, the mortality rate may be five to six times higher than official estimates originally suggested.
18. In the US, the disease costs patients around $4,500 more when compared to patients suffering from other neurological conditions.
(Bright Focus Foundation)
Alzheimer’s patients require constant watching and care, which annually costs Americans a great deal more than other similar conditions. By 2050, it’s expected that the total costs of healthcare for people with all forms of dementia will increase to over $1.1 million.
Alzheimer’s Statistics Worldwide
19. Asia has the fastest growing number of people with dementia.
(Alzheimer’s Disease International)
Besides the fact that people suffer from dementia mostly in low- or middle-income countries, the figures also show that the number of people with dementia is growing fast in countries such as China, India, and their neighboring countries.
20. Someone in the world develops Alzheimer’s every 3 seconds.
(Alzheimer’s Disease International) (Alzheimer’s News Today) (Alzheimer’s)
How many people have Alzheimer’s? According to the recent international statistics, a total of 44 million people live with the disease worldwide. Moreover, an average of only one out of four people will actually be diagnosed. This is a devastating piece of information, proving that it’s essential to spread awareness of even the mild, early Alzheimer’s symptoms.
What percent of the population has Alzheimer’s? The data obtained suggests that 0.71% of the world’s population has Alzheimer’s disease.
21. Finland has the highest rate of deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, with 54 deaths for every 100,000 people a year.
In fact, Scandinavian countries all have a fairly high rate of deaths from Alzheimer’s. What country has the highest rate of Alzheimer’s and dementia deaths after Finland? The staggering stats from Finland are immediately followed by the US at 46 for every 100,000 people per year, and Canada’s 36 for every 100,000 people per year.
22. Alzheimer’s figures vary by gender. 65% of those with dementia are women.
(Alzheimer’s Research UK)
Several studies have confirmed that the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia is higher in women than men. It’s speculated that the reason behind this is that women live longer lives on average.
23. As per the UK’s Alzheimer’s statistics from 2017, 16.3% of women died from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
(Alzheimer’s Research UK)
While Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are the number-one cause of death among UK women, men aren’t spared. That is, dementia is still the second leading cause of death among men, with 8.7% of UK men succumbing to this illness in 2017.
1. What are the 7 stages of Alzheimer’s?
During the initial stage of the disease, patients are asymptomatic, and changes are only detectable via brain imaging. The second stage is characterized but minor memory problems (e.g., patients forget where they left something, but later remember). In the third stage, others may notice cognitive problems, such as trouble remembering the right word. The fourth stage is one of moderate decline. Patients may not recall what they ate for lunch or remember details from their past. During the fifth stage, patients have difficulties with everyday activities, e.g., they don’t know how to get dressed.
The Alzheimer’s disease facts demarcate stages six and seven as periods of severe cognitive decline and very severe cognitive decline. First, the patient experiences complete unawareness of their environment, they can’t recognize anyone except their closest relatives, they lose bladder and bowel control, and they need assistance 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, because Alzheimer’s is a terminal disease, the final stage is fatal for patients.
2. How long does each stage of Alzheimer’s last?
The mild stages of Alzheimer’s usually last 2–4 years. The disease then progresses to its moderate and late stages, which last 2–10 years and 1–3 years, respectively.
3. What’s the correlation between Alzheimer’s and dementia?
Dementia is an inclusive term used to refer to neurological conditions affecting memory, interaction, spatio-temporal awareness, and overall performance of daily activities. In addition to Alzheimer’s, there are several types of dementia, including vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, and many others. Read more on this in our article explaining the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
4. What are the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease?
People with Alzheimer’s tend to forget how to complete familiar tasks, are confused with time and space, have trouble understanding visual images, and can’t always find the words they need. Additionally, they misplace things, tend to wander and get lost, have poor judgment and repeat the same mistakes, change their mood often, avoid social gatherings because they have trouble keeping up, and so on.
5. When was Alzheimer’s discovered?
(National Institute on Aging)
Alzheimer’s was discovered in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed peculiar changes in the brain structure of a woman who’d died from a mysterious neurological illness. It would later be defined as what we nowadays call Alzheimer’s disease.
6. What foods should a person with Alzheimer’s avoid?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the facts and figures on the disease require a nutritious diet that’s based on balance and variety. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are highly recommended. Patients should avoid saturated fat and use less salt. However, when it comes to sugar, despite the fact that refined sugars should generally be cut down, they may help improve loss of appetite in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.
It may be true that there’s currently no ultimate cure for Alzheimer’s. However, we at MedAlertHelp feel that there still is something that can be done. By delivering the most pertinent Alzheimer’s disease facts, we hope to decrease any public misunderstanding of the disease. Hopefully, the information here will facilitate recognition of early symptoms, by either the patients themselves or their loved ones. The sooner the disease is caught, the easier it is to enhance a patient’s quality of life while also potentially extending it.