Alzheimer’s disease affects nearly 5.3 million Americans and 15 million people worldwide. The global number is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030 if nothing is found that can counter it. The disease disproportionately effects women, as nearly two-thirds of Americans living with it are female. This statistic raises a multitude of follow up questions. To date there is no research that addresses the uneven distribution. Many pharmaceutical companies are seeking treatment for the disease. There is a great profit potential to who ever is first to market. One such drug is showing signs of promise according to a recent study.
A Reuters article details the recent trial of the drug Aducanumab.
“An experimental drug from Biogen Idec Inc. became the first Alzheimer's treatment to significantly slow cognitive decline and reduce what is believed to be brain-destroying plaque in patients with early and mild forms of the disease.”
The article goes on to describe specifics of the trial and its results. Alfred Sandrock, Biogen's chief medical officer, declared "it's a bigger treatment effect than we had hoped for.”
Even with these impressive results the drug has many years before it would be available to the consumer. Drug trials are lengthy and expensive and the results must be able to be replicated for it to be considered a true scientific study.
Alzheimer’s disease has some alarming statistics. Besides targeting women it is estimated to cost the taxpayer in the area of 1 Trillion dollars a year by 2050. This is a five-fold increase in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and a nearly five-fold increase in out-of pocket spending according to alz.org. There are steps one can take to improve their overall health and that is thought to also improve the cognitive abilities and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. We covered these items in a previous blog.
Until there is a cure people must manage the disease. That includes family members as well as the person themselves. Some drugs, brain exercises, physical exercise, low stress and a healthy diet all show signs of being beneficial. With the baby boomers hitting retirement age the emotional, financial and overall strain will become very difficult to manage if science cannot produce a cure or at least a way to dramatically retard the diseases progress.
In the meantime the ideal is to remain independent as long as possible. There are agencies that offer in-home help. There are sensors that allow family members to monitor eating, sleeping and medication intake. Improve the odds of fighting off the disease by eating well, exercising regularly, learning something new and reducing stress.
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