AAICPD: More than 100 Million Alzheimer's Patients Predicted Worldwide by 2050

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WASHINGTON -- The worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, estimated at 26.6 million patients, may quadruple by 2050, according to a mathematical model.

WASHINGTON, June 11 -- The worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer's disease, estimated at 26.6 million patents, may quadruple by 2050, according to a mathematical model.

That "looming global epidemic" of 107 million patients in less than a half century was forecast by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health team at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia. The findings were also published in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Ron Brookmeyer, Ph.D., and colleagues, arrived at those numbers using a stochastic, multistate model to analyze data from the United Nations worldwide population forecasts, as well as epidemiological studies of Alzheimer's disease.

But a miscalculation at any point in the mathematical model and would significantly change the picture. If, for example, the rate of Alzheimer's disease plateaus at age 90 and remains constant, rather than continues to increase exponentially as Dr. Brookmeyer and colleagues predicted, then 2050 would witness "a modest 4% decline" in Alzheimer's disease prevalence.

Noting that Alzheimer's disease is likely to place a significant burden on public health resources, Dr. Brookmeyer urged renewed efforts to develop interventions that would delay the onset of disease.

An intervention that would delay onset by a single year would theoretically mean 12 million fewer cases in 2050, and a treatment that could delay onset or slow progression of Alzheimer's, would chip away another 9.2 million cases.

He said that current data suggests that 48% of Alzheimer's disease cases are in Asia and that percentage is expected to grow to 59% by 2050.

Other findings:

  • An estimated 11.6 million of the 26.6 million worldwide cases living today have late-stage Alzheimer's disease.
  • Almost two-thirds of the Alzheimer's disease patients are women.
  • At age 65 Alzheimer's disease prevalence is 0.9%, versus 4.2% at age 75 and 14.7% at age 85.

The authors acknowledged that other statistical models have produced Alzheimer's disease prevalence estimates that are lower than their model, but they concluded that even more conservative estimates conclude that the worldwide costs of caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease will be huge.