The study, published in the Archives of Neurology, predicts that up to 16 million Americans will experience Alzheimers at the mid-century mark. A previous study said 7.5 to 14 million would get the disease by then. Today about 4.5 million Americans suffer from this incurable brain disease.
The reason for the increase: The new study, by researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, takes into account that Americans are living longer than ever before, USA Today reported. Age is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's.
"This will have a massive impact on our society," said Sheldon Goldberg, the president of the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago. He said that U.S. companies already pay an estimated $61 billion a year for medical expenses and productivity losses associated with Alzheimer's disease.
The jump in cases could fatally strain Medicare and Medicaid, but it would almost certainly devastate millions of American families, many who go bankrupt paying for care before federal programs kick in.