Unintended Benefits: The Potential Economic Impact Of Addressing Risk Factors To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease


Pei-Jung Lin, Zhou Yang, Howard M. Fillit, Joshua T. Cohen, and Peter J. Neumann (2014)

doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.1276 HEALTH AFFAIRS 33, NO. 4 (2014): 547–554

ABSTRACT Certain chronic conditions appear to be modifiable risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. To understand the potential health and economic impacts of addressing those risk factors, we used data on a Medicare cohort to simulate four scenarios: a 10 percent reduction in the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, respectively, and a 10 percent reduction in body mass index among beneficiaries who were overweight or obese. Our simulation demonstrated that reducing the prevalence of these conditions may yield “unintended benefits” by lowering the risk, delaying the onset, reducing the duration, and lowering the costs of dementia. More research is needed to clarify the exact relationship between various other chronic diseases and dementia. However, our findings highlight potential health gains and savings opportunities stemming from the better management of other conditions associated with dementia.