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Article
November 10, 1989

Prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease in a Community Population of Older PersonsHigher Than Previously Reported

Author Affiliations

From the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Drs Evans, Scherr, Cook, Hebert, Hennekens, and Taylor and Ms Chown); the Division of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School (Dr Funkenstein); the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Dr Albert); and the Department of Preventive Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Dr Hennekens), Boston, Mass. Dr Scherr is now with the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester; Dr Hebert is now with the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.

From the Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Drs Evans, Scherr, Cook, Hebert, Hennekens, and Taylor and Ms Chown); the Division of Neurology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School (Dr Funkenstein); the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School (Dr Albert); and the Department of Preventive Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Dr Hennekens), Boston, Mass. Dr Scherr is now with the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester; Dr Hebert is now with the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1989;262(18):2551-2556. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430180093036
Abstract

Clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease and other dementing illnesses were assessed in a geographically defined US community. Of 3623 persons (80.8% of all community residents over 65 years of age) who had brief memory testing in their homes, a stratified sample of 467 persons underwent neurological, neuropsychological, and laboratory examination. Prevalence rates of Alzheimer's disease were calculated for the community population from the sample undergoing clinical evaluation. Of those over the age of 65 years, an estimated 10.3% (95% confidence limits, 8.1% and 12.5%) had probable Alzheimer's disease. This prevalence rate was strongly associated with age. Of those 65 to 74 years old, 3.0% (95% confidence limits, 0.8 and 5.2) had probable Alzheimer's disease, compared with 18.7% (95% confidence limits, 13.2 and 24.2) of those 75 to 84 years old and 47.2% (95% confidence limits, 37.0 and 63.2) of those over 85 years. Other dementing conditions were uncommon. Of community residents with moderate or severe cognitive impairment, 84.1% had clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease as the only probable diagnosis. These data suggest that clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease is a common condition and that its public health impact will continue to increase with increasing longevity of the population.

(JAMA. 1989;262:2551-2556)

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