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Alzheimer's Has Hefty Global Price Tag

Report: Global Economic Impact of Dementia at $604 Billion and Expected to Rise
By Katrina Woznicki
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 21, 2010 -- A new international report about Alzheimer’s disease suggests that the global economic impact of dementia costs about $604 billion or 1% of the global Gross Domestic Product, indicating that the financial toll of caring for patients with Alzheimer’s is substantial and expected to rise.

World Alzheimer Report Findings

The report, released by Alzheimer’s Disease International for World Alzheimer’s Day and titled “World Alzheimer Report 2010: the Global Economic Impact of Dementia,” indicates that 70% of the $604 billion in direct medical care and informal care costs take place in North America and Western Europe.

Among the report’s other findings:

  • In 2010, an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide live with dementia. That figure is expected to rise sharply to 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050. The greatest increases are expected to occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The cost of treating Alzheimer’s at $604 billion annually exceeded the annual revenues of major global corporations, such as Walmart ($414 billion) and Exxon Mobil ($311 billion).
  • Direct medical costs accounted for 16% of care costs. Informal costs, such as unpaid care by a family member, and social costs, such as nursing homes, accounted for about 42% each.
  • High-income countries such as the United States accounted for 46% of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and 89% of the costs in care.

 

Alzheimer’s Advocates Head to Washington, D.C.

The authors of the report urge governments worldwide to make Alzheimer’s disease a major public health priority in order to address these concerns. World Alzheimer’s Day is also marked in Washington, D.C., where dozens of researchers will complete the 67-day cycling Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Ride SM to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s. About 40 researchers will bike to Capitol Hill to join members of the U.S. group Alzheimer’s Association to push Congress to enact the National Alzheimer’s Project Act

The National Alzheimer’s Project Act is a strategic plan that provides guidance on the federal government’s efforts regarding Alzheimer’s research, care, and services. Currently, the legislation has the support of 27 Senate co-sponsors and 91 House co-sponsors. About 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and the condition is estimated to be the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.

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