According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), the number of dementia cases in the U.S. is expected to double by 2060. Currently, 6 million Americans live with the disease or a mild cognitive impairment. Researchers believe the high rates of Alzheimer’s are caused by an aging population.
NIH’s calculations may be more accurate than previous methods, experts think, and they could offer a good tool for Alzheimer’s prevention. It is the first time a study takes into account biomarkers that could signal Alzheimer’s before the disease’s onset in its calculations.
Numerous past studied have shown that such telltale signs boost the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or its more severe form, dementia. NIH researchers analyzed the influence of such markers on people prone to the disease on a multi-state level. The computer model could help with efforts of keeping the disease at bay.
Prevention Is the Key
In the U.S., dementia is the 6th leading cause of death, CDC estimates show. North America and other developed countries expect the incidence of the disease to surge over the next decades as life expectancy is growing worldwide.
- The main issue is that there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s yet.
- The existing medication can only treat the symptoms, not the root cause.
- There are some drug companies that are heavily investing in research, like Merck and Eli Lilly, but they have so far failed to come up with an effective treatment.
In addition, researchers haven’t reached a consensus on how the disease should be tackled. Disagreements have greatly slowed the pace of innovation. So now, public health experts are placing a bet on prevention, like healthy diets, games that keep the brain active, and exercise. But before that, researchers need to get their numbers right, which is what the NIH just did.
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