Alzheimer’s disease is a U.S. health crisis affecting more than 5 million Americans, and new figures show women are bearing the brunt of the damage.
While about 1 in 11 men over 65 are estimated to develop the brain disease, for women the odds are even worse—about 1 in 6, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s latest Facts and Figures report released Wednesday, March 19.
While women in their 60s often worry about breast cancer, the report found a woman of that age group is about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
“Well-deserved investments in breast cancer and other leading causes of death such as heart disease, stroke and HIV/AIDS have resulted in substantial decreases in death,” Angela Geiger, chief strategy officer of the Alzheimer’s Association, said in a statement. “Comparable investments are now needed to realize the same success with Alzheimer’s in preventing and treating the disease.”
Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s epidemic: they account for almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease, but also account for 60 percent of caregivers for people with dementia.
The new report shows every 67 seconds an American develops Alzheimer’s, an irreversible disease that eventually destroys memory and thinking skills to the point where people can’t carry out basic tasks each day. The most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, killing approximately 500,000 people each year.
Last week a study found those death rates may be significantly underreported.