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Study identifies predictors of Alzheimer's disease longevity

It's among the first questions asked after someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease: "What can we expect?" It's a tough question that has been difficult to answer. But a new study suggests that assessing several key clinical aspects of the disease soon after diagnosis could help families and physicians better predict long-term survival in individuals with AD. These insights also could help public health officials refine cost projections and plan services for the growing number of older Americans at risk for the disease.

The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears in the April 6, 2004 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers from Seattle's Group Health Cooperative and the University of Washington found that in the years following diagnosis, people with AD survived about half as long as those of similar age in the U.S population. Women tended to live longer than men, surviving about 6 years compared to men who lived for about 4 years after diagnosis. But this gender gap narrowed with age. Age at diagnosis was also a factor. Those who were diagnosed with AD in their 70s had longer survival times than those diagnosed at age 85 or older. "This finding moves us toward a more precise vision of the course that Alzheimer's may take in people with certain clinical characteristics," says Eric B. Larson, M.D., M.P.H., director of Group Health Cooperative's Center for Health Studies in Seattle and former medical director at the University of Washington Medical Center. "For doctors, this provides very useful data for gauging the prognosis of an AD patient. For patients and their caregivers, as difficult as this may be to hear, it can help in making appropriate plans for the future,". During the study, Dr. Larson and his colleagues followed 521 community-dwelling men and women aged 60 and older who had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. They were recru
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Contact: Doug Dollemore
dollemod@nia.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
5-Apr-2004


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