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Alzheimer's Disease Fast Facts

By CNN Library
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)

(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder that damages and destroys brain cells, leading to loss of memory and other intellectual abilities.

Facts:
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for the loss of memory and intellectual abilities.

Alzheimer's disease is fatal and there is no cure. It is a slow moving disease that starts with memory loss and ends with severe brain damage.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in America.

The disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer. In 1906, the neuropathologist discovers an autopsy on the brain of a woman who dies after exhibiting language problems, unpredictable behavior and memory loss. Dr. Alzheimer discovers the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are considered the hallmarks of the diseases.

March 9, 2014 - In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have developed a blood test that predicts with astonishing accuracy whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer's disease.

Contributing Factors:
Age - The number of people with Alzheimer's doubles every five years after the age of 65. For most people, symptoms first appear after the age of 60.

Family history - Genetics play a role in an individual's risk of developing the disease.

Head trauma - There is a possible link between the disease and repeated trauma or loss of consciousness.

Heart health - The risk of vascular dementia increases with heart conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

Possible Symptoms:
Memory loss
Repeating questions and statements
Poor judgment
Misplacing items
Mood and personality changes
Confusion
Delusions and paranoia
Impulsiveness
Weight loss
Seizures
Difficulty swallowing
Increased sleeping
Lack of control of bowel and bladder
Trouble handling money

National Estimates:
An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease.

In 2010, there were 83,494 Alzheimer's deaths in the United States. It is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans age 65 and older.

Women age 65 and older have a 1 in 6 chance of getting the disease and men have a 1 in 11 chance of getting the disease.

The estimated cost of caring for Alzheimer's patients in the U.S. in 2013 is $220.2 billion.

"Between 2014 and 2025 every state and region across the country is expected to experience double-digit percentage increases in the numbers of people with Alzheimer's due to increases in the proportion of the population age 65 and older," according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease:
Early-onset Alzheimer's is an uncommon form of dementia that strikes people younger than age 65.

About 4 percent of all people with Alzheimer's disease develop symptoms before age 65.

Early-onset Alzheimer's disease often runs in families.

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