Earlier this month, the U.S. government reported the death rate for Alzheimer’s disease rose 39 percent from 2000 to 2010 and that in 2010 Washington had the highest rate among U.S. states. Yet which states had the highest Alzheimer’s death rates not just for 2010, but over the entire last decade? Digging into the Compressed Mortality File of the National Center for Health Statistics, using the “Wonder” data retrieval tool of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, we found that from 1999 through 2010, Washington state by a wide margin had the highest age-adjusted average annual death rate from Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. It was 39.75 per 100,000 population. Of the top ten counties for Alzheimer’s deaths in Washington nine were western. This most prevalent type of dementia strikes mainly older people, but life expectancies statewide for both men and women in Washington are only slightly above national averages – as shown in the most recent data (2009, Excel) from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The CDC says the most closely-correlated risk factors for Alzheimer’s are age and genetics but that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may also figure in.
Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by U.S. State, 1999-2010
Rounding out the top ten U.S. states in 1999-2010 age-adjusted Alzheimer’ death rates per 100,000 population after Washington are North Dakota (32.70), Arizona (30.82), South Carolina (30.76), Tennessee (30.68), Maine (29.75), Louisiana (29.38), Alabama (28.80), Oregon (28.50) and Colorado (28.35).
Top three WA counties for Alzheimer’s death rates are Kitsap, Wahkiakum, Skagit
Within Washington, nine of the ten counties with the highest Alzheimer’s death rate over the 12-year stretch from 1999 through 2010 were in the western part of the state. The 10 were Kitsap (55.91), Wahkiakum (53.38), Skagit (49.42), Thurston (47.18), Island (46.36), Cowlitz (46.32), Pend Oreille (44.73), Pierce (42.91), Lewis (42.73), and Snohomish (42.62).
Map: Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rate Per 100K Pop., by WA Counties, 1999-2010
The NCHS reports Alzheimer’s is now the sixth most frequent cause of death in the U.S. and fifth for those 65 and up. Non-Hispanic whites have a 26 percent greater risk of death from Alzheimer’s than African-Americans and a 30 percent greater risk compared to the Hispanic population. An estimated $200 million was spent in 2012 caring for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the U.S. That amount is projected to more than quintuple by 2050.