Deaths from Alzheimer’s disease are on the rise in the United States. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the rate of death from Alzheimer’s disease increased by more than 50 percent.

The statistics show that the rates increased from about 16 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 25 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014. The overall numbers for people who died from Alzheimer’s disease went from 44,536 deaths in 1999 to 93,541 deaths in 2014.

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The study was published May 25 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Scientists believe the increasing number of deaths from the disease are due to the growing number of older adults in the country.

Rate of Alzheimer’s disease deaths jumped 55 percent in 15 years

Alzheimer’s disease commonly affects adults of 65 years or older, according to CDC researchers. The researchers noted that the rise in the death rate from the disease might also be caused by an increase among doctors, coroners and medical examiners who are reporting Alzheimer’s disease as a cause of mortality.

The report also said that the percentage of Alzheimer’s deaths that occurred at home increased during the study period, as opposed to the percentage of deaths reported in hospitals or nursing homes. The researchers believe those findings suggest that there has been a rise in the number of people caring for those affected by Alzheimer’s.

“Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the acting director of the CDC, in a statement, according to Live Science. “As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before. These families need and deserve our support.”

Image credit: Getty / Huffpost
Image credit: Getty / Huffpost

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease in which abnormal protein deposits build up in the brain, causing brain cells to die. The disease is best known for causing memory loss, but it also causes debilitation effects on the body and affects people’s ability to move and eat by themselves. There is no known cure for the illness.

Alzheimer’s deaths may be mistaken for pneumonia or other complications

The disease itself is usually not the direct cause of a person’s death, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity in the U.K. People often die due to complications from the illness, like infections (such as pneumonia) or blood clots.

The new report might underestimate the actual number of Alzheimer’s deaths, as some doctors may indicate pneumonia or other complications as the cause of mortality, rather than the disease itself.

“Supportive interventions can lessen the burden for caregivers and improve the quality of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Christopher Taylor, the study’s co-author and epidemiologist at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, according to Live Science.

According to the National Institute on Aging, caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients could benefit from learning about the stages of the disease, as well as learning how to cope with the challenges of caregiving.

Source: Live Science