Aging bodies are made of aging cells that are unable to fight and heal as they once did.
Alzheimer's disease may be the third major cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, according to a new study in the journal Neurology.
The study shows that the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer's is five to six times higher than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, which is based on data from death certificates.
According to the CDC, Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
"It is up to the discretion of the person filling out the death certificate to list Alzheimer's as an underlying cause," said Bryan James, a professor at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Death certificates have a place to name the immediate cause of death, and then usually have room to list up to three other underlying causes of death, he said.
Alzheimer's might not be listed as an underlying cause on a death certificate because there are more immediate underlying causes, or because the person filling out the death certificate does not know that the person who died suffered from Alzheimer's, James said. And, sometimes, even the family or the person who died was not aware that he or she had Alzheimer's, because they had never been diagnosed. [Top 10 Leading Causes of Death]
"Many people do not conceive of Alzheimer's disease as a fatal disease, but it actually is," he said.
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