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Alzheimer's diagnosis rates appear to be dropping in the U.S.

Alzheimer's diagnosis rates appear to be dropping in the U.S.

Despite still lacking any kind of cure or effective form of treatment, rates of Alzheimer's disease and dementia in the United States appear to be falling, according to a series of new studies.

ABC News reports that currently over 5.4 million Americans struggle with the effects of Alzheimer's disease, a condition where the only drugs available can simply ease symptoms for short periods of time. But according to new research, Americans over age 60 today now have a 44 percent lower chance of having this disease than they would have 30 years ago. Additionally, the average age of a patient diagnosed with dementia grew from 80 to 85 over the same time frame.

Not only is this good news in its own right but it's a particularly surprising development given the so-called "silver tsunami" trend, wherein more age-related health problems are expected to occur simply because the elderly population is larger than ever before. But it's because of that population growth that diagnosis rates have fallen. While there are more people with Alzheimer's disease now than 30 years ago, there are also far more healthier seniors since then as well — the ratio of Alzheimer's-free seniors to those diagnosed has shifted in the former's favor.

Although no definitive connections could be made, the studies in question found that as Alzheimer's rates declined, so did rates of smoking, heart disease and stroke — all factors commonly associated with the onset of dementia. Additionally, researchers found that there was an uptick in the number of people that use blood pressure medicine during the 30-year window, which can play a part in reducing the chances of developing dementia.

"The results bring some hope that perhaps dementia cases might be preventable, or at least delayed [by improving health and education]," Claudia Satizabal, a Boston University researcher and the study's leader, said in an official statement. 

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