The coronavirus pandemic had led to an additional 15,000 American deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Approximately 100,000 people died from the age-related brain diseases from February 2020 through May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This means the fatality rate for Alzheimer’s and dementia was 18 percent higher than the average over the last few years, The Wall Street Journal reports.
What’s more, as several states reached their peak in early to mid-April – including New York – an estimated 250 extra people with dementia were dying every day, both directly and indirectly caused by the virus.
Approximately 100,000 people died from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia between February 2020 and May 2020, about 15,000 more than would have normally occurred. Pictured: Medical workers load a patient from Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center into an ambulance in Andover, New Jersey, April 16
Excess deaths due to Alzheimer’s and dementia surpassed 1,000 in California, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Pictured: Pictured: Medical workers load a deceased body from Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center into an ambulance in Andover, New Jersey, April 16
An estimated 5.8 million Americans above age 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020 and it’s expected to hit 13.8 million by 2050.
Sufferers experience a decline in cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities and there is no cure.
Those who have the disease have a build-up of two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, in the brain that form clumps, which smother and destroy neurons – leading to loss of memory and confusion.
In 2018, the most recent year for which complete data is available, about 120,000 Americans died of Alzheimer’s.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics listed the disease as the sixth-leading cause of death.
It is well known that the risk for severe cases of COVID-19 increases with age, and that older adults are at the highest risk.
The CDC says some deaths were likely due to the virus, but were not listed as cause of death on death certificates.
But other deaths were also likely due to causes such as disruptions in daily routines, and lack of care.
‘It’s one fall, and it sets everything off,’ Nicole Fowler, associate director at Indiana University’s Center for Aging Research, told The Journal.
‘It’s one day of no fluids and they become dehydrated and it sets off a chain of events. It’s amazing how little it actually takes to upset their environment.’
The Journal reports that excess deaths due to Alzheimer’s and dementia surpassed 1,000 in four states: California, New Jersey, New York and Texas.
However, Alzheimer’s is not the only underlying health condition that has suffered from excess deaths.
According to the CDC, hypertension has seen 8,000 excess deaths, diabetes has seen 5,000 deaths and strokes have seen 3,700 excess deaths.
Dr Robert Anderson, Chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the CDC, said these are a mix of deaths due to COVID-19 and Americans in poor health whose death was sped up due to the pandemic.
‘That extra stress on a frail person can cause people to die,’ he told The Journal.
In the US, there are more than 2.5 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 125,000 deaths.