Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Font Size

Survival After Alzheimer's Diagnosis

Early Age of Diagnosis Linked to Relatively Shorter Life Span

WebMD Health News

Nov. 18, 2002 -- A diagnosis of Alzheimer's is devastating at any age, but a new study shows the age of diagnosis can have a big impact on how quickly the disease takes its toll. Researchers found people diagnosed with Alzheimer's in their 60s and early 70s had a shorter life span by about 15 years yet those diagnosed at an older age had a shorter life span by only about two to three years.

The study appears in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Researchers say the results confirm earlier indications that the life span of people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) depends crucially on the age of diagnosis, and that information is vital to both caregivers and health officials.

"Information on survival following a diagnosis of AD is important, not only for predicting future prevalence of the disease but also for planning the resources necessary to care for patients during a life span of increasing disability," writes Ron Brookmeyer, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues.

The researchers say the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is expected to quadruple over the next 50 years, when the disease is projected to affect one in 45 Americans.

The study looked at 921 patients age 55 over a 15-year follow-up period who were enrolled in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging from 1985 to 1999.

Researchers found the average survival time after a diagnosis of AD depended strongly on the patient's age.

For example, the average survival time for a person diagnosed with the disease at age 65 was 8.3 years, 15 years shorter than the average, or a 65% reduction in lifespan. A diagnosis of AD at age 90 decreased the average life span for that age by two to three years, or a reduction in remaining years of only 39%. So the older the diagnosis, the less of an impact on survival time; the younger the age at diagnosis, the more of an impact on lifespan the disease had.

No differences were found between men and women in terms of survival.

The researchers say several strategies, such as hormone replacement and anti-inflammatory drug therapy, are currently being studied that may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's. If those therapies are proven effective, they could have a significant impact in reducing the level of disability associated with the disease as well as prolonging life span after diagnosis.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, November 2002. -->

Today on WebMD

Remember your finger
When it’s more than just forgetfulness.
senior man with serious expression
Which kinds are treatable?
senior man
Common symptoms to look for.
mri scan of human brain
Can drinking red wine reverse the disease?
eating blueberries
Colored mri of brain
Close up of elderly couple holding hands
mature woman
Woman comforting ailing mother
Senior woman with serious expression