Alzheimer Disease: The Crisis is Upon Us

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This supplement on Alzheimer disease is a collaboration between JAOA—The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association and the Alzheimer's Association, the largest private organization devoted to elimination of Alzheimer disease, care for patients with Alzheimer disease, and educational services for caregivers. Alzheimer disease is a condition that robs individuals of their minds, places excessive burdens on caregivers, and threatens the vitality of the US healthcare system. This JAOA supplement is timely because the Alzheimer disease crisis is upon us. This crisis was also highlighted on September 21, 2010—“World Alzheimer's Day,” when the Alzheimer's Association and other organizations sought to raise public awareness about Alzheimer disease and its impact on families and communities around the world.1

To effectively respond to the Alzheimer disease crisis, osteopathic physicians need to be knowledgeable about the basic pathologic mechanisms, diagnostic methods, and treatment options for this disease. Osteopathic physicians should also be familiar with subject recruitment into clinical intervention trials and other studies about Alzheimer disease. Most individuals with Alzheimer disease are seen initially by primary care physicians. In most of these cases, rapid referral of a patient to a specialist for definitive diagnosis is needed to begin treatment with currently available medications, as well as for potential recruitment into clinical trials designed to investigate new disease-modifying medications. Despite the need for specialists, primary care physicians continue to play crucial roles in the care of patients with Alzheimer disease.

As highlighted by recently released figures from the Alzheimer's Association,2,3 Alzheimer disease poses an enormous public health problem and an incredible burden on families of patients in terms of care, lost wages, and caregiver distress. This burden is expected to expand exponentially in our lifetimes and those of our children. More than 5 million people in the United States have Alzheimer disease, making this condition the most common form of age-related dementia.2,3 The number of people in the United States with Alzheimer disease is projected to reach 7.7 million by 2030.2,3 Alzheimer disease is the fifth leading cause of death for individuals older than 65 years.2,3 Yet, the majority of people in the US elderly population lack access to specialty clinics at large medical centers. Because of this lack of access, Alzheimer disease may go undiagnosed in these people, or their diagnosis may be delayed, resulting in less effective treatment.

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The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association




9 Suppl 8

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This article was published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Volume 110, Issue 9, September 1, 2010, Supplement 8, Pages Sii-S2

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Copyright © 2010 the American Osteopathic Association.

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