Alzheimer’s disease deaths have increased 55 percent in the last 15 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Medical investigator for Alzheimer’s research, Dr. Patrick Gahan with LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center says one reason for the uptick is that people are living longer.
“They’re living longer without the effects of heart disease and strokes, which means that they have other diseases that will crop up, Alzheimer’s being one of those,” Gahan said.
According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Gahan says another reason for the increase in cases could be that doctors are becoming more aware of the degenerative disease.
“In the past, it was just called dementia or senility, and we’re increasingly being able to define the disease in more definite terms,” Gahan said.
Gahan says this is the most costly disease we face as a country, and it has no treatment options. He says Pennington has multiple drug trials, and they’re looking for patients over the age of 50 with a family history of Alzheimer’s to participate.
“We can put those people into trials to see if we can possibly prevent the disease or at least delay it’s onset by 5 to 10 years,” Gahan said.