Alzheimer's disease may contribute to nearly as many deaths in the United States as heart disease or cancer.
New research finds that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are under-reported on death certificates and medical records. A study of about 2500 older people found the death rate was more than four times higher after an Alzheimer's diagnosis in people 75 to 84 and nearly three times higher in people 85 and older. More than one-third of all deaths in those age groups were attributable to Alzheimer's disease
This translates into an estimated 503,400 deaths from Alzheimer's in Americans over 75 in 2010, which is five to six times higher than the 83,494 number reported by the Centers for Disease Control based on death certificates.