Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


Alzheimer disease is a progressive degenerative neurological disorder of insidious onset characterized by the deterioration of cognitive functioning. Little is known about the etiology and epidemiology of this condition. The only risk factor consistently associated with Alzheimer disease is advancing age. As the population of the elderly continues to grow, many public agencies, including those in Michigan, are concerned about social, personal, and financial implications and seek estimates of the number of people with dementia. To date, mortality rates based on vital statistics have been noninformative because Alzheimer disease is difficult lo diagnose clinically and has been considered to be a nonspecific sign of aging, rarely appearing as an underlying cause of death on death certificates. Incidence rates from 100 to 1,500 new cases per 100,000 persons per year have been measured among older adults. Reported prevalence ratios range from 3 to 15.3 per 100 persons aged 65 and older. Prevalence estimates for Michigan indicate that an additional 49,000 to 130,000 cases will exist in the year 2030 compared to 1980.