In this article, we will serve you with some interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease. We will touch on definition, causes, and statistics.
Let start with General Interesting Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
More than 35.6 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Each year, there are 7.7 million new cases. According to forecasts by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of patients should almost double every 20 years.
As a result, the social and economic cost of the disease will also increase unless curative or preventive measures are quickly established. The greatest increase in cases will occur in low or medium industrialized countries. This is partly due to an increase in life expectancy, as well as a lack of accessibility to diagnosis and prevention policy.
Nevertheless, a (relatively) good news in industrialized countries: some studies show a decrease of nearly 20% of new cases per decade since 1970, even if the total number of patients continues to increase.
Who Was Alois Alzheimer?
Alzheimer’s disease is named after the German psychiatrist and neurologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915) who, in 1906, associated symptoms (a progressive decline of cognitive functions) with specific brain damage, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, thanks to to the study of a patient named Augusta Deter. Subsequently, other researchers will confirm his findings, and a second identical case in 1911 will validate his theory.
For more than half a century, the study of Alzheimer’s disease has remained unresolved. It is from the years 1970-1980 that a new dynamic appeared thanks to the progress of the medicine and because of the increase of the cases in connection with the aging of the population. Thus, in the 1980s, the biological formations responsible for the plaques (beta-amyloid protein) and neurofibrillary tangles (the hyperphosphorylated Tau protein) were determined. These discoveries are still decisive in the search for a pharmacological treatment against Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, in the 1990s, advances in genetics made it possible to identify several genes related to the onset of the disease.
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I – Definition of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a complex neurodegenerative pathology that causes dysfunctional connections between neurons. A better understanding of it, studying its evolution, identifying its causes and risk factors, are all essential elements for the development of effective treatments.
Clinical symptoms are thought to be related to the neuronal loss that mainly affects the hippocampus, the seat of memory, and the neocortical areas giving Alzheimer’s disease its nickname of “memory sickness”.
From a Clinical Point of View
It gradually and insidiously affects the cognitive functions of the individual (memory, language, reasoning, learning, problem-solving, decision-making, perception, attention …) ultimately leading to a loss of autonomy. Clinical symptoms are thought to be related to neuronal damage that mainly affects the hippocampus, the seat of memory, and the neocortical areas that give Alzheimer’s disease its nickname of “memory sickness.”
From a Physiological Point of View
It is characterized by the presence between the neurons of plaques constituted by an accumulation of the β-amyloid protein, and by the presence of intracellular neurofibrillary tangles in the neuron caused by the abnormally aggregated Tau protein.
The formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles gradually lead to neuronal dysfunction and functional death.
II – Statistically Interesting Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease
We have just selected 10 countries around the world divided between continents. These figures are approximate (they can be higher). So, let’s start with some statistically interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease
1 – Statistics in the United Kingdom
– Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 700,000 people and costs more than 17 billion pounds sterling (23.5 billion euros) a year.
– Nearly two thirds (425 000 patients) of people live in community, and one third (244 000 patients) in a care home.
– Two-thirds of people with dementia are women (446,000 patients).
– This disease affects 1 to 14 people aged 65, 1 to 6 people aged 80 and 1 to 3 people aged 90 years.
According to a British study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, the percentage of people aged 65 and over with Alzheimer’s in the United Kingdom would have dropped by nearly 25% in 20 years, from 8.3 % to 6.5%.
2 – Statistics in France
Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in France. In 2015, 900,000 people are affected by the disease in France and each year 225,000 new cases are identified.
In 2020, 3 million people will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease (patients and caregivers). But if the disease strikes the elderly most often (nearly 15% of the over 80s), it can also occur much earlier. It is estimated today in France to 33,000 the number of patients under 60 years of age with Alzheimer’s disease.
3 – Statistics in Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg)
– Alzheimer’s disease affects 253,000 people.
– 7% of people over 65 have dementia and 20% of people over 80 are insane.
– 65% of people live at home.
– 22% of the total cost of health care is spent on psychological disorders and 25% of this “psychological budget” is spent on dementia (3 billion euros per year)
Spain also has many cases of Alzheimer’s disease with 583 000 people with Alzheimer’s against 198 000 people for the Nordic countries (Finland, Norway, and Denmark). However, Alzheimer’s disease is not only prevalent in Europe.
4 – Statistics in the United States
– In the United States, 5.4 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, of whom 5.2 million are over 65 years old. This figure could reach 16 million by 2050.
Today, one in eight elderly people would have Alzheimer’s disease in this country.
In addition to these figures, here are some data on Alzheimer’s disease in the United States:
. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Between 2000 and 2008, mortality attributed to this disease increased by 66%. At the same time, the one associated with heart disease has decreased by 13%.
. 80% of home care is provided by family members. More than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s. They are usually close family members, but it can also be distant relatives or friends. In 2011, there were about 17.4 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution that the country values at just over $ 210 billion.
Even more damning, at least 800,000 Americans with Alzheimer’s would live alone.
5 – Statistics in Canada
– In 2011, 747,000 Canadians had a cognitive impairment, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. This figure represents 14.9% of Canadians aged 65 and over.
– By 2031, this number is expected to increase to about 1.4 million, if nothing changes in Canada.
6 – Statistics of India
With regard to care and care pathway of Alzheimer’s disease in India, there is none because it is not yet a public health issue. Life expectancy is increasing in the country, cases of dementia diseases are increasing but remain almost unknown by the general public.
In addition, since Alzheimer’s disease occurs most often with age, it is considered part of normal aging; thus its specificity is not taken into account in the need for the help of carers who often do not find family and social support.
Failure to Care for a Sick Parent Is Considered a Failure
It is important to highlight the taboo of the request for help because the social pressure is strong and insists especially on the failure to take care of his sick elderly parent and not the attempt to find solutions on a daily basis. The situation imposes the acceptance of local cultural values and social judgment, from which it is sometimes difficult to detach oneself for caregivers who are already suffering.
For diagnosis, families go to the doctor or neurologist who can make a clinical diagnosis or an MRI but, often, returns the family home because there is no cure and generally, no explanation, no preparation for the evolution of the disease and disorders, no psycho-social support, no non-pharmacological intervention, no support for carers.
Goodwill exists, however. The state offers free training of one week per year at the national level.
Local states can hold conferences and / or training days. Unfortunately, there is no budget, allowances or subsidies, especially for NGOs (Non-Governmental Organization).
But the private market is exploding despite the tradition.
Today, there are some day centers and specialized accommodation for the whole country. The market for private retirement homes is exploding despite the official rhetoric of traditional values as opposed to “western” values (retirement homes are designated solely as a means of abandoning one’s aging parent).
But it turns out that Indians are also looking for specialized care places and services; the cases of abuse are born and are reported in the media, which helps to sensitize the urban and rural population to the question of normal and pathological aging.
India is a changing country and, thanks to NGOs and the media, society is becoming more and more informed about it; it evolves quickly for the well-being of patients and families but unfortunately not homogeneously.
7 – China’s Statistics
More than 10 million people had a form of dementia in China in 2010. The Middle Kingdom is particularly subject, for 20 years, to a sharp increase in the number of cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The care of these patients, more and more numerous, is an important issue in a country where this pathology is often taboo.
In just 20 years, the number of people with some form of dementia has exploded. It rose from 3.68 million in 1990 to 9.19 million in 2010. Among them, the number of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has also increased significantly, from 1.93 million to 5.69 million. two decades. In total, China is the country in the world with the largest number of Alzheimer’s patients.
Difference Between Rural and Urban Areas
There is little difference between rural and urban areas for those affected by the disease. In contrast, the prevalence of dementia is much higher among women. This is important given that they live longer than men in China (as elsewhere in the world). They represent 75% of the population over 85 years old.
Only, more and more young adults migrate from rural areas to larger cities, leaving older women alone.
For Alzheimer’s patients and other forms of dementia to be managed in the best conditions, adequate resources should be provided at the national, local, family and individual levels. In addition, public information campaigns are needed to thwart misconceptions about these conditions, for which the entourage rarely consults a doctor. “
There Are Only 300 Doctors
In China, there are only 300 doctors competent to treat more than 9 million patients with dementia. The shortage of overwhelms families and threatens the resources of social assistance already exceeded by the aging of the country … Life expectancy in China has increased by seven years since 1990 to reach 76 years. The flip side of this progress is that the aging population has combined with an increase in mental illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of patients with Alzheimer’s disease increased by 53%, to an estimated 5.7 million.
It’s not just a Chinese case. After being considered for years as a disease of the rich, Alzheimer’s is proliferating more and more in middle and low-income countries. A study published in 2008 showed that dementia rates in urban Latin America (about 10%) are similar to those in rich countries.
8 – Statistics in Cuba
Cuba has opened its first center for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which affects 130,000 people on this island, as part of a plan to cope with the aging of the population.
9 – Statistics in Tunisia
AFA center is the first private institution for Alzheimer’s patients in Africa and the Middle East. It is located in Tunis. AFA center, realized over a period of two years with investments estimated at 500 000 dinars (231 894 euros), has a capacity of 50 beds.
10 – Statistics in Morocco
Morocco has 90,000 Alzheimer’s patients and no treatment center. There are no official statistics, but this number is expected to increase proportionately with the aging of the population.
An association to help families helping the sick exists: it is the Moroccan Association Alzheimer and related diseases (AMAMA), one of the dozens of NGOs created in recent years to help people with this disease.
The parents and relatives of the sick live in an unsustainable state of distress, and, in view of the blatant lack of reception facilities, they set their sights on these NGOs to ask for help. If there is a blossoming of associations and meetings that are held in Morocco around Alzheimer’s disease lately, it is that it begins to hit more and more people, with all the consequences that this causes.
The patient can become aggressive towards his family and friends. And it is the caregivers who suffer from it.
In Morocco, Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, and will undoubtedly increase in proportion to the increase in life expectancy in Morocco (5% of the Moroccan population will be aged 65 and over by 2020) more serious is the lack of care facilities for patients.
Summary of Statistics and Prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease in the World
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 35.6 million people in the world with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is involved in 60 to 70% of cases. The number of new cases of dementia per year is about 7.7 million. The total number of people with dementia is expected to nearly double every 20 years.
35 Million Sick People in 2010
A study was conducted by the federation “Alzheimer’s Disease International” (ADI), which brings together 70 national associations. This figure of 35 million sick people in 2010 is about 10% higher than the predictions hitherto advanced by scientists (figures published by the British medical journal The Lancet in 2005). The number of patients would thus reach 65.7 million people in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050.
This increase has two causes: the effective spread of the disease, but also the gradual availability of data from developing countries. This double explanation justifies the differences between the different geographical areas. Forecasts for the number of patients are thus increasing in Western Europe, South Asia, and Latin America. On the other hand, they are lower than previous valuations in East Asia and remain stable in North America.
57.7% of Sick People Live in Low and Middle-Income Countries
The ADI report also highlights the growing weight of developing countries. He estimates that 57.7% of sick people live today in low and middle-income countries. Given the higher progression of Alzheimer’s disease in these countries over the next few years, they should concentrate 70.5% of patients by 2050.
Faced with this rise in charge, the ADI recommends taking the example of the countries that have put in place national plans to fight against Alzheimer’s disease. This is the case today for Australia, South Korea, France (the 2008-2012 Alzheimer Plan) and the United Kingdom. Other countries are already finalizing plans of the same type. The association also advocates strengthening investment in research.
A Significant Impact on the Entourage
The ADI report highlights an important point about Alzheimer’s disease. It has the particularity of having a significant impact not only on the person affected but also on his entourage: the professionals providing care, the “caregivers” (ie family members who home, friends, etc. According to the report, between 40% and 75% of caregivers who care at home for people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia would suffer from significant psychological disorders and 15 to 32% of them would be depressed. These figures show the importance of strengthening “help for carers”, which is one of the main axes of the 2008-2012 Alzheimer Plan.
I hope that you found some statistically interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease in this chapter. Let start with interesting facts about Alzheimer’s disease according to causes.
III – Brain Disease and Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that causes a gradual decline in cognition and memory. Gradually, the destruction of nerve cells occurs in brain regions related to memory and language. Over time, it is increasingly difficult for a person to memorize events, recognize objects and faces, remember the meaning of words, and exercise judgment.
The Most Common Form of Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly; it accounts for about 65% of dementia cases. The term dementia encompasses, in a very general way, health problems marked by an irreversible decrease of mental faculties. Alzheimer’s disease differs from other dementias in that it evolves gradually and mainly affects the short-term memory in its early stages.
Predisposition to the Disease
According to Judes Poirier, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, for Alzheimer’s to happen in his 60s, one must be predisposed to the disease by heredity, lifestyle, and so on.
When a person has Alzheimer’s disease, there are microscopic changes in the tissues of parts of his brain and a constant loss of a chemical called acetylcholine, which is vital for brain function. This substance is related to the communication of nerve cells and mental activities such as learning, memory, and thinking.
Worldwide, more than 45 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. To the sickness suffered by the people affected, we must add the emotional, health and economic wear that it entails for those around them.
*** The Brain Injury
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the appearance of very specific lesions, which gradually invade the brain and destroy its cells, the neurons. The neurons of the hippocampus, the region that controls memory, are the first affected. We do not know yet what causes the appearance of these lesions.
*** Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease
The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not known. In the vast majority of cases, the disease appears due to a combination of risk factors. Aging is the main factor.
Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases – hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, etc. – also seem to contribute to its development.
Genetic Factors Play an Important Role
Genetic factors also play an important role in the onset of the disease. Thus, some genes may increase the risk of being reached, although they are not directly the cause of the disease. The researchers found that about 60% of people with Alzheimer’s disease carry the Apolipoprotein E4 or ApoE4 gene. Another gene, SORL1, also seems to be involved. However, many individuals carry these genes and will never have the disease and, conversely, some people without these genes can develop the disease.
It is also possible that infections or exposure to toxic products play a role in some cases but no formal proof has been obtained.
Other factors are also studied, such as sedentarily, lack of intellectual activity, poor eating habits, and lack of sleep or weak social interactions.