A series of interactive maps reveal the rapid rise in Alzheimer’s disease across the United States over the past 20 years.
Official figures show that the fatality rate has increased by 168%, jumping from about 44,000 per year in 1999 to 120,000 in 2021, the latest date.
An aging population and the rise of sedentary lifestyles and poor diets have all contributed to this increase.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease will soar in bars every state over the 20-year period to 2021.
Mississippi experienced the largest increase in mortality, with deaths per 100,000 tripling from 13.3 to 52.8. Only Maine decreased, and he decreased by 7% over the same period.
States with the sharpest increase in Alzheimer’s deaths from 1999 to 2021
- Mississippi (+297%)
- Arkansas (+191%)
- Alabama (+162%)
- Hawaii (+154%)
- Louisiana (+140%)
- California (+138%)
- Georgia (+137%)
- West Virginia (+136%)
- Utah (+135%)
- Oklahoma (+134%)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
States with the Least Increase in Alzheimer’s Deaths from 1999 to 2021
- Maine (-7%)
- New Hampshire (+1%)
- Maryland (+4%)
- Massachusetts (+7%)
- Montana (+16%)
- Colorado (+33%)
- Kansas (+36%)
- Wyoming (+37%)
- Florida (+37%)
- Arizona (+47%)
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Four states show the steepest increases: Arkansas (up 191%), Alabama (up 162%), and Louisiana (up 140%).
Hawaii (154.3%) was the only non-Southern state in the top five states.
Southern states are historically less affluent than their northern neighbors and have higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In Hawaii, the cause of aging is said to be the increase in the elderly population.
The cost of living in the state (ranked as the most affordable to pay for retirement last year) could also be a factor, as it makes people less likely to buy health insurance..
Only Maine saw a decline in Alzheimer’s disease incidence over the 20-year period, a nearly 8% drop from 29.6 to 27.4 per 100,000 people.
It was not clear why this happened.
However, the RAND Corporation, a California-based research organization, previously suggested: Higher education levels, lower smoking rates, and improved treatment of cardiovascular disease in developed countries may reduce the incidence of dementia.
It could also be a reporting issue.
At the opposite end of the scale were New Hampshire (up just 1.3% over 20 years), Maryland (up 4.5%), Massachusetts (up 7.3%) and Montana (up 16%).
Similarly, lower mortality from Alzheimer’s disease was associated with higher living standards, wealth and healthy lifestyles in the state.
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating condition that gradually robs the patient of their memory and personality.
Early warning signs include bad parking, more frequent cursing than usual, sloppy clothing, and giving away free money.
In later stages, however, patients may have difficulty forming sentences, communicating with others, and remembering recent events.
Billions of dollars have been poured into research into the condition, but doctors have yet to find a cure for the disease.
The graph above shows how the death rate from Alzheimer’s disease has risen in the United States.This may be related to an increase in older people living longer
Medical officials have previously suggested that the cause is an accumulation of protein tangles in the brain that affect communication between brain cells.
However, more recent research suggests that damage to blood vessels in the brain may also be a factor.
Doctors say the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease is to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
The latest tranche of CDC data for 2021 reveals that Mississippi, the state with the fastest rising death rate from Alzheimer’s disease, now has the highest death rate in the United States. 52.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
The top five are Alabama (46.8), Washington (45.5), Georgia (44.5) and Arkansas (43.2).
On the other side of the scale were mostly the much wealthier northern states.
New York had the lowest death rate from Alzheimer’s disease in the nation (13.6), less than a quarter of the worst-hit states.
It was followed by Maryland (16.1), Massachusetts (17.7), Florida (19.6) and New Jersey (20.6).
Florida’s status as a “retirement mecca” for seniors, boosting access to care within the state, may be why the scale is so low.
Another study by the Alzheimer’s Association revealed the number of Alzheimer’s patients by state.
At the top of the table is California, which is also the most populous state in the United States and one of the top three travel destinations for older Americans.
The top five Alzheimer’s patients were Florida (580,000), New York (410,000), Texas (400,000) and Pennsylvania (280,000).
All of these states have large and growing geriatric populations, which may explain the increasing Alzheimer’s patient population.
At the other end of the scale were Alaska (8,500), Wyoming (10,000), Vermont (13,000), North Dakota (15,000), and South Dakota (18,000).
All of these states are also among the five least populated states in the United States, which explains the low numbers of the disease.
When it comes to states expected to see the fastest increase in Alzheimer’s disease cases, Arizona was at the forefront with a projected 33.3% increase over five years.
Dr. Terry Spitz, executive director of the Southwestern Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said this was because more older Americans moved into the state.
she said AZ Central: “Baby boomers are getting older. This is a very important issue. This is a public health crisis in our state.
Also included in the list were Vermont (up 30.8% over five years), Nevada (up 30.6%), Wyoming (up 30%) and Alaska (up 29.4%).