New data from the National Center for Health Statistics document for the first time trends in deaths from Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Alzheimer’s disease accounted for 16,754 deaths in 1993, 98 percent of which were to Americans 65 years of age and over.
2. The number of people who died from Alzheimer’s disease in 1993 was nearly 20 times the number reported in 1979 (857) when the disease was first identified separately as a cause of death. However, the increase likely reflects improvements in reporting and diagnosis of the disease rather than increases in prevalence.
3. The overall age-adjusted death rate from Alzheimer’s disease increased to 2.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1993. Rates increased rapidly from 1979 to 1988 before leveling off between 1988 and 1992.
4. Death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increase with age. For Americans aged 65-74 years the death rate was nearly 10 deaths per 100,000 population. For persons aged 75-84 years the rate increased to 64 per 100,000 population and for those age 85 years and over it was almost 228 per 100,000 population.
5. Age-adjusted death rates from Alzheimer’s disease were greater for males than for females, but the differences in rates by sex decreased substantially from 1979 to 1993. Age-adjusted rates were nearly two times higher for the white population than for the black population.
6. The State with the highest reported Alzheimer’s death rate was Montana (56 deaths per 100,000 population aged 65 years and over), followed by Utah (52 deaths per 100,000) and Vermont (50 deaths per 100,000). New York had the lowest reported Alzheimer’s death rate (12 deaths per 100,000 population aged 65 years and over), followed by New Jersey (21 deaths per 100,000) and Pennsylvania (22 deaths per 100,000). The large differences between State rates probably reflect differences in reporting practices rather than true differences in prevalence.
Reports are based on information from death certificates completed by funeral directors, attending physicians, coroners, and medical examiners.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
Vital and Health Statistics, Series 20, No. 28,February 29, 1996