WASHINGTON, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Death rates from the Alzheimer's disease (AD) in the United States increased 55 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to a newly released government report.
During that time, the number of AD deaths per 100,000 Americans rose from 16.5 in 1999 to 25.4 in 2014 after accounting for age, according to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Overall, the fatal form of dementia is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 3.6 percent of all deaths in 2014.
Possible reasons for the increase include the growing population of older adults in the U.S., increases in diagnosis of AD at earlier stages, increased reporting by physicians and others who record the cause of death, and fewer deaths from other causes of deaths for the elderly, such as heart disease and stroke, it said.
"Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer's disease," CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat said in a statement.
"Our new study reveals an increase in the incidence of Alzheimer's disease-related deaths. As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer's disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before. These families need and deserve our support."
The report found that most Alzheimer's deaths in the U.S. still occur in a nursing home or long-term care facility, but fewer in 2014 (54 percent) than in 1999 (68 percent).
In contrast, the number of Alzheimer's deaths at home increased from 14 percent to 25 percent during the same period.
Counties with the highest death rates in the country were primarily in the Southeast, according to the report. Other areas with high rates included the Midwest and West Coast.
While there is currently no cure for AD, the CDC urged people to see a doctor if they experience symptoms affecting their daily life such as memory loss, difficulties with problem solving, or misplacing objects.
According to the U.S. health agency, early diagnosis is important to allow patients and their families to begin planning medical and caregiving needs at all stages of the disease.