A new study from Tufts Medical Center adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that it is possible to take steps to lower one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or delay its onset.
By tackling four key risk factors for Alzheimer’s—heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and BMI—researchers determined that patients could decrease their likelihood of developing the disease, postpone its start, or minimize its duration.
The research team, which included Howard Fillit, MD, of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, found that managing these risk factors could also reduce the Medicare and Medicaid costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Using a simulation model, researchers showed that a 10% reduction in heart disease rates could save a combined $37 billion in annual Alzheimer’s-associated costs for Medicare and Medicaid. Similarly, reducing hypertension rates by 10% resulted in a $24 billion reduction in costs, and lowering BMI by 10% in obese or overweight adults generated reductions of $41 billion.
Alzheimer’s disease is expected to cost the United States $214 billion dollars in 2014, including $150 billion in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Studies like this underline that investments in preventative care and drug discovery research are essential to the health of people and the economy.
This research was co-funded by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.