Alzheimer’s Deaths Significantly Underestimated in Past Accounts

A new study indicates that the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease may be six times higher than previously thought, making it the third most deadly disease in the United States. Only heart disease and cancer cause more fatalities.

Earlier numbers indicated that 83,000 people died of Alzheimer’s in 2010, but according to the new study, the actual number of fatalities from the disease that year was closer to 500,000. Heart disease caused nearly 600,000 deaths in 2010, and cancer caused about 575,000.

According to researchers at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University in Chicago, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease go underreported, causing the discrepancy. Often, only the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, is reported on a death certificate, and an underlying cause of death, like Alzheimer’s disease, is not listed.

It is estimated that 5.2 million people had Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, and that deaths related to the disease have increased by nearly 68 percent over the past ten years.

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