Medicine and Health

How many people are affected by Alzheimer's disease?
Answered by Rudy Tanzi PhD
  • Rudy Tanzi PhD

    Rudy Tanzi PhD

  1. Rudy Tanzi PhD Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital


    We're seeing dramatic increases in Alzheimer's because people are living longer. Take a statistic -- 40 percent of people over 85 have Alzheimer's disease. The average lifespan in this country now is just about 80 years old, 78 for men, almost 80 for women. Women get it more than men, but that seems to be regardless of lifespan. So, you have 71 million baby boomers headed toward risk age, so we have a tsunami coming, an epidemic. Unfortunately, the federal government is slowly waking up to this. They've been asleep. I mean, case in point, Alzheimer's costs $180 billion a year, as much as the Afghanistan and Iraq war combined. What did we throw at it? $500 million.

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