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Groundbreaking Map Shows the U.S. States and Counties Where Alzheimer’s Is Most Common

Men’s Journal
July 19, 2023
Declan Gallagher

 

The study is a breakthrough in potentially understanding how the disease spreads.

New data published Monday in the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that senior citizens who reside in the East and Southeast regions of the United States are more likely to suffer from the disease.

It is the first time researchers have been able to detail the spread of the disease at a county-wide level. To obtain their results, they surveyed 3,142 jurisdictions which housed more than 10,000 residents aged 65 and above.

The report indicates that the highest number of cases are occurring in Baltimore. 16.6 percent of that city’s 87,800 residents aged 65 or older are estimated to have dementia, according to the study. Miami-Dade County, in Florida, and New York’s Bronx County also saw a similar percentage of cases, with both counties coming in around 16.6 percent.

Maryland has an overall case rate of 12.9 percent amongst seniors, just ahead of New York (12.7 percent).

“Based on changes over time in the age composition of their populations, the West and Southeast are expected to experience the largest percentage increases in people with Alzheimer’s dementia between 2020 and 2025,” the study found.

This interactive map shows the results by county:

 

“Having this information is very helpful because I think it adds to the urgency of the work that we’re doing,” Dr. Halima Amjad, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins Medicine and chair of an Alzheimer’s council in the Maryland state government, told CNN. (She was not personally involved with the study.)

“For dementia, a lot of the care and support that is offered—through legislation or programs—often occurs at the state and local level, rather than at the national level,” Dr. Amjad admitted. “So we need to have that focus, both through planning at a public health level and backing up that planning with finances, to bolster the care and support that’s available.”

Dementia is three times as likely to affect those aged 75–79 than it will those aged 65–69. Patients aged 85 and above are 15 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than those in the younger brackets.

Rates in women are 13 percent higher than those among similarly aged men, while Black seniors were 2.5 percent more likely to have the disease than white seniors of the same age.

“The difference in risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias among racial and ethnic groups is most likely explained by disparities produced by the historic and continued marginalization of Black and Hispanic people in the United States,” the study states. “Disparities between older Black and Hispanic populations and older white populations in life experiences, socioeconomic indicators, and ultimately health conditions.”

It also warns that members of the LGBTQ+ community “may face an increased dementia risk, at least indirectly, through pervasive exposure to systematic discrimination, marginalization, disadvantage and/or exclusion from social institutions and enterprises.”

Though that may all seem very discouraging, there’s some good news on the Alzheimer’s front this week as well.

Researchers in Verona, Italy recently found that compounds in espresso, including caffeine, are beneficial for staunching the development of the disease. That means your mid-day coffee break, or even those espresso martinis after dinner, might just be saving your life.

 

Read More at Men’s Journal.