Alzheimer's is a progressive, fatal neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of dementia. There are currently no drugs available that prevent or even slow its course, but we are making progress on developing effective treatments.
Research shows that damage to the brain starts 15 to 20 years before problems become evident. In most people with Alzheimer's, symptoms first appear after age 70. In a subset of patients with early-onset Alzheimer's, however, symptoms occur before age 65.
Worldwide, approximately 44 million people are living with Alzheimer's or other dementias. In the U.S., an estimated 5.5 million are afflicted.
Alzheimer's disease is officially the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. A 2014 study published in Neurology suggests that it may actually be the third leading cause of death.