Louisiana’s early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s rates are among nation’s worst

Health

In this Aug. 14, 2019 photo provided by the University of Kentucky, Donna Wilcock, of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, holds a brain in her lab in Lexington, Ky. She says that contrary to popular perception, “there are a lot of changes that happen in the aging brain that lead to dementia in addition to plaques and tangles.” (Mark Cornelison/University of Kentucky via AP)

BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) – A new report on the rates of early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s is not encouraging when it comes to Louisiana.

In a report released by Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Pelican State ranked 42nd out of 50 states with a combined diagnosis rate of 10.1 people per 10,000 commercially insured adults ages 30-64. That’s over a four-year span from 2013 to 2017. (The national average is only 8.7 per 10,000.) That’s also as the nation as a whole saw a 200% increase in early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s during the same period.

Diagnosis rates of the two conditions are higher in the South and East portions of the U.S., according to the report.

“We are seeing an increase in the diagnosis of early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease over the past four years, especially in the South,” said Dr. Emily Vincent, medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana. “It is important that the medical community continues efforts in research for disease prevention and awareness of symptoms to aid in diagnosis.”

Additional findings from the study include:

  • Louisiana’s rate of early-onset Alzheimer’s only is 2.7 per 10,000, well above the national average of 2.2 per 10,000.
  • Women make up 58% of those diagnosed.
  • The number diagnosed with these conditions increased by 373% among 30- to 44-year-olds, 311% among 45- to 54-year-olds and 143% among 55- to 64-year-olds from 2013 to 2017.
  • In 2017, about 131,000 people between the ages of 30 and 64 were diagnosed with either form of dementia.

At the same time, there is optimism: the first new drug for Alzheimer’s in 15 years could be approved this year, and federal funding for Alzheimer’s and dementia research has skyrocketed.

You can download a copy of a report for more information and statistics below.

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