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Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), increasing to 16 million in 30 years. In Pennsylvania, an 18.5 percent increase in diagnosis is estimated in people aged 65 and over in the next eight years. The cost of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated to total $259 billion this year, increasing to $1.1 trillion (in today’s dollars) by mid-century. Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Why is the rate of Alzheimer’s disease increasing so dramatically? Research shows that several factors contribute to late onset AD (over age 65, the most common form). These include older age, genetics (especially carrying the APOE4 allele), family history, a history of head trauma, midlife onset high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Delving deeper, Americans are living longer, but over 65 percent of adults are overweight or obese and diabetes rates are climbing (over a third have diabetes or prediabetes). What is good or bad for the heart is also good or bad for the brain.