U.S. National Institute on Aging

Alzheimer's Could Be Third Leading Cause Of Death

A new study suggests Alzheimer's might be the cause of nearly 500,000 deaths per year. That is six times the number reported by the government.

By Nichole Cartmell | March 6, 2014

Alzheimer's might be the cause of more deaths in the United States than previously thought. 

Currently, ​Alzheimer's ranks number six on the list of mortality rates in America causing nearly 84,000 deaths per year. But a new study suggests that number might actually be closer to half a million. (Via KCTV, The Washington Post)

That's about six times higher than the government total, which would put Alzheimer's just behind heart disease and cancer when it comes to causes of death.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago published their study Wednesday arguing dementia is usually left off death certificates.

The study followed more than 2,500 people over the age of 65 for eight years. Of those people, more than a fifth developed Alzheimer's, and about 400 deaths were associated with the disease. (Via American Academy of Neurology)

The lead author of the study says, "Death certificates are well known to underreport deaths from Alzheimer's and other types of dementia." (Via CNN)

Some doctors argue that's because it's not the immediate cause of death.

"​Pneumonia, urinary track infection, heart attack, those are things that are obvious to people when someone dies. And that's what a doctor will frequently list on the death certificate as the cause of death." (Via NBC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the number of deaths caused by Alzheimer's isn't as large as the study reports.

"The CDC acknowledges Alzheimer's is likely under-reported on death certificates, but does not agree the gap is as large as what's suggested in this new study." (Via WGAL)

Still, the disease is a growing problem. NBC reports it is estimated that more than 5 million people are living with Alzheimer's, and the Alzheimer's Association says that number is expected to triple by 2050 if there are no medical breakthroughs.

  TRENDING IN Sci/Health NEWS
Running back Tony DorsettWATCHLIST
Hans Holbein the Younger / Getty Images

What King Henry VIII And Some NFL Players Might Have In Common

Adélie penguins in Antartica.WATCHLIST
Eli Duke / CC BY 2.0

Giant Iceberg Traps Penguin Colony, Killing 150,000 Birds

An artist's rendition of the European Space Agency's Philae lander.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / ESA

Philae Lander Is Likely Silent Forever On The Dark Side Of A Comet

High school and middle school teachers might not know the best way to teach their students about global warming, according to a recent study.WATCHLIST
Mikael Miettinen / CC BY 2.0

Apparently, Teachers Aren't Sure How To Teach Climate Change

A mom breast-feeding at the Melbourne Zoo.WATCHLIST
Elizabeth Hunt Burrett

Breast-Feeding Mom Shares Moment With Orangutan At The Zoo

A group of cyclists travel through thick smog in China.WATCHLIST
Getty Images

Severe Air Pollution Might Have Killed Millions Worldwide

Aedes aegypti mosquitos.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Mario Tama

Hawaii Governor Signs Emergency Measure To Fight Zika Virus

Heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are displayed.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Scott Olson

Want To Get Your Research Paper Some Press? Tie It To Valentine's Day

A person praying.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chung Sung-Jun

Belief In A 'Punishing' God Might've Helped Societies Get Bigger

IKO Creative prosthetic systemWATCHLIST
IKO

Kids Might Build Their Prostheses With Lego Bricks In The Future

A group of children play at The Little Gym.WATCHLIST
Parker Knight / CC BY 2.0

Ending Racism Means Integrating Daycare

Scientist working at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

A New Group Is Dedicated To Double-Checking Scientists' Work

A row of antibiotic pill bottlesWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Joe Raedle

Looking To The Ocean Floor For New Antibiotics

Gravitational waves in a simulation of two black holes mergingWATCHLIST
NASA

What's So Exciting About Gravitational Waves?

Compared to the rest of the national budget, NASA's funding is tiny.WATCHLIST
NASA, Newsy / Evan Thomas

What NASA Would Fund With Its Tiny $19B Wish List

Asian Elephant in IndiaWATCHLIST
Thangaraj Kumaravel / CC BY 2.0

Why Are Elephants Wandering Into Indian Towns?

Gravitational waves from two stars mergingWATCHLIST
NASA

Einstein Was Right: Scientists Just Showed Gravitational Waves Exist

More than 3,400 kids reportedly swallowed batteries in 2010, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.WATCHLIST
yoppy / CC BY 2.0

Parents Share Horror Stories After Toddlers Swallow Button Batteries

A video of a man reading while eating.WATCHLIST
Videoblocks

High School Degree, Healthy Heart Might Lower Your Risk For Dementia

Artist rendering of newly researched galaxies.WATCHLIST
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

Hundreds Of Galaxies Were Hiding Behind The Milky Way

Medical MarijuanaWATCHLIST
Getty Images / David McNew

Medical Marijuana Might Be Legalized In Australia Really Soon

A man kisses his horse.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Julian Herbert

Researchers Say Horses Can Recognize Our Facial Expressions

With so many working to fix racial bias in adults, we spoke with a neuroscience researcher who says we may need to focus our attention on kids instead In this file photograph taken on March 20, 2007, a two-week-old boy finds his feet in his new world. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced, April 3, 2007 that for the first time, mothers-to-be will have a guarantee that the NHS will provide them with a full range of birthing choices - including home births - and a midwife they know and trust to care for them. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Why Fixing Racial Biases Starts With Babies

Senior citizens walk along Llandudno Promenade on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Why Live Forever? Life Is Long Enough

Senior citizens relax on Llandudno Promenade on September 8, 2014 in Llandudno, Wales.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Want To Live Forever? We Should Cure Aging

The box is filled with vegetables that are still good to eat, but might look a little odd from the outside. They're being sold at a cheap price.WATCHLIST
ASDA

Store Hopes 'Wonky Veg Box' Will Reduce Waste Of Imperfect Vegetables

A little girl poses for a photograph next to a stranded sperm whaleWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Ben Pruchnie

Scientists Offer Theory As To What Killed 30 Sperm Whales

The CRAM (compressible robot with articulated mechanisms) from the PolyPEDAL Lab at UC Berkeley.WATCHLIST
University of California, Berkeley / PolyPEDAL Lab

Cockroach-Inspired Robot Can Squeeze Into Some Tight Spaces

A rare albino green sea turtle leaves its nest.WATCHLIST
Facebook / Coolum District Coast Care Group

Surprise! This Baby Green Turtle Isn't Green At All

Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz institute on January 26, 2016 in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Mario Tama

The White House Is Asking For $1.8B To Counter The Zika Virus