Letter: Increase funding for Alzheimer's disease

Kenneth Kirby

There are 63,000 cases of dementia of the Alzheimer’s type in Iowa. Research dollars are awarded to diseases and conditions ranked by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) from death certificate data. Alzheimers is ranked the No. 5 killer. The Alzheimer’s Association feels it is underreported and should be seven times larger. If reporting could reach this level, Alzheimer’s would be the No. 3 killer and more research dollars would be awarded for research.

Research is important because cancer and heart disease, the No. 1 and No. 2 killers, have proved the value of research since thousands of patients continue living with their disease due to the research dollars providing a means of discovery that Alzheimer’s lacks.

How can we change this? Dementia of the Alzheimer’s type rarely gets recognition on death certificates even though the Iowa Department of Public Health and other states recognize this dementia as an immediate cause of death. The CDC also recognizes the disease. It is estimated that 80 or more percent of dementia conditions produce pneumonia toward the end of life. Pneumonia is then cited as the cause of death. One way to ensure Alzheimer’s disease is recognized as the cause of death is for family members to ask that the death be coded as dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. This way, the dollars could go to the disease.

It’s a travesty to have a loved one endure this disease and still not have the death certificate be rewarded with research dollars.

Kenneth Kirby

Cedar Rapids

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