Can Managing Alzheimer’s Risk Factors Lower Costs Associated with the Disease?

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 disease—heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and BMI—researchers determined that patients could decrease their likelihood of developing the disease, postpone its start and minimize its duration.

Moreover, the research team (which included the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s executive director and chief science officer Howard Fillit, MD) found that managing these modifiable risk factors could result in a substantial reduction in the Medicare and Medicaid costs associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Using a simulation model, researchers determined that a 10 percent 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 percent resulted in a $24 billion reduction in costs, and lowering BMI by 10 percent 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 costs. 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 funded by the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.

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