Physicians blamed more U.S. deaths on Alzheimer’s disease in 2015 than in 2014.
The age-adjusted death rate for Alzheimer’s disease increased to 29.2 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2015, up from 25.4 deaths per 100,000 the year before, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The overall age-adjusted death increased more slowly, to 729.5 deaths per 100,000, from 723.2 deaths per 100,000.
The U.S. Alzheimer’s death rate rises and falls from year to year, but it’s up from 16.5 deaths per 100,000 in 1999.
|Source: NCHS, National Vital Statistics System|
The increase in the Alzheimer’s death rate could be due partly to an increase in the actual number of deaths caused by Alzheimer’s disease. But it could also be due partly to physicians’ increasing awareness of the condition.
A real increase in Alzheimer’s incidence could cause problems for acute health care insurers and Medicare plan issuers as well as for issuers of ordinary major medical coverage for people under age 65.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the parent of the NCHS, lets users search for U.S. mortality information using the ICD-10 diagnostic code for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Use of the ICD-10 diagnostic code system is new, however, and searches based on that diagnostic code do not yet produce useful results.
In some case cases, physicians may have to choose between attributing a death to Alzheimer’s disease or to another condition, such as influenza and pneumonia.