Alzheimer's more prevalent than some think - FOX 32 News Chicago

Alzheimer's more prevalent than some think

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The American Academy of Neurology is trying to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease, which affects one in three senior citizens.

"What we found is that half a million deaths each year can be attributed to Alzheimer's…these numbers put it right behind heart disease and cancer as the number three killer in the United States," said Dr. Byron James of Rush Medical.

From what has been reported by the centers for disease control and what's written on death certificates, Alzheimer's was once sixth on the list of leading causes of deaths.

"People focus on the more immediate causes of death such as pneumonia or malnutrition or heart failure, and people with Alzheimer's usually die from one of these things, and you have the option to write down Alzheimer's as an underlying cause, but many people neglect to do that," said James.

Alzheimer's impacts mostly seniors 65 or older. The disease starts in the part of the brain that affects the memory. It eventually spreads to other parts of the brain that control basic functions like swallowing, heart rate and breathing.

"This is a big deal. This disease is going to cost us, in this country a lot of money, and then there's the cost to the families in terms of the emotional and psychological cost," said Beth Kallmeyer of the Alzheimer's Association.

Kallmeyer said that the study confirms something they've known for a while. She hopes the new numbers will bring in more resources for research and funds to fight this disease.

While there's no cure for Alzheimer's, doctors say to push back the onset of the disease, exercise, get out and get fit no matter what your age is.

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