Age Gender and Epidemiology

The prevalence of AD increases with increasing age. AD is present in about 1 percent of individuals in the 60 to 65 year-old age group; this number increases to 40 percent in the 85 or older age group (von Strauss et al., 1999).

Most epidemiological studies have suggested a higher risk of AD for females. However, recent results from the Mayo Clinic Study of Older Americans indicates the risk for men and women is approximately equal (Edland et al., 2002.)

Epidemiological studies have consistently implicated AD as the most common form of dementia in the elderly. Findings from the Nun Study (Snowdon, 2001; Snowdon and Markesbery, 1999) suggest that approximately 43 percent of confirmed dementia cases are due to AD alone and another 34 percent are due to AD combined with vascular causes. Thus, AD may be implicated in the majority of dementia cases.

Age is the most important risk factor for AD. While AD can be diagnosed in patients as young as 40, it is mostly a disease of the elderly. The prevalence of dementia doubles every 5 years after age 65 (Jorm et al., 1987), and some recent U.S. studies have similarly shown that the incidence of AD doubles every 4 to 5 years in the elderly (Kawas et al., 2000; Bachman et al., 1993). It is not clear whether rates continue to increase or level off in the oldest age groups. Some recent studies suggest an increase in the risk of developing AD into the mid-80s and a decrease in risk thereafter. Snowdon (2001),

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