Data reveals where the brain disorder happens most often.

As you might’ve noticed, there has been a slew of recent developments surrounding Alzheimer’s disease. Eli Lilly’s experimental drug, donanemab, was shown to slow the condition’s progression by as much as 60 percent, and experts are now embracing a numerical rating scale similar to cancer to diagnose patients more accurately. But some news has been less optimistic than the rest.

New data from the Alzheimer’s Association shows that the debilitating brain disorder occurs more commonly in certain parts of the U.S. For instance, you may be more likely to have the condition if you happen to live in the East or Southeast — and the price of this awful ailment is adding up. In the U.S., researchers estimate that it long-term care of affected patients can reach as much as $321 billion per year.

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias possess tremendous health, social, and economic burdens worldwide,” the association stated in its study.  

Wondering where your home ranks on this list? Here’s a breakdown of what we know about the study.

How was the study conducted?

Researchers based their findings on thousands of people who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, along with U.S. Census data, to assess demographic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, which included age, gender, and race. They then mapped these data points against the makeup of various states and counties across the U.S.  

Researchers say they hope the information will be a call to action better support the millions living with this disease — and to plan for an increasingly aging population. (The nation’s median age of 38.9 years marked a 0.2-year increase between 2021 and 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.)

“These estimates could help public health officials to understand the burden of the disease (e.g., demand for caregiver counseling and institutional care) at the county and state levels and develop adequate strategies for identifying and caring for people with AD dementia,” the study stated.

Which states had the highest rates of Alzheimer’s?

The highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the nation is found in Maryland, where 12.9 percent of residents aged 65 and older have been diagnosed with the condition. According to the study, this is because the state has a higher proportion of Black Americans (who are about twice as likely as their white counterparts to have the illness) and a greater number of residents who are 85 years or older. 

On an even more localized level, Baltimore and Prince George’s counties were both listed as having an inordinate number of Alzheimer cases. But luckily, local leaders are already doing something about it: Dr. Halima Amjad told CNN that Maryland set aside $3.5 million for dementia care. “We need to have that focus, both through planning at a public health level and backing up that planning with finances, to bolster the care and support that’s available,” she said.

Other states weren’t far behind. New York had the second-highest Alzheimer’s rate at 12.7 percent, followed by Mississippi and Florida, which each had a 12.5 percent. Louisiana rounded out the top five at 12.4 percent.

Though many cases were concentrated in the east and southeastern parts of the U.S., California and Illinois also had higher rates of the brain disorder at 12 percent each, respectively. 

Who’s most at risk for Alzheimer’s?

What we do know is that states with more people aged 85 and older, women, and minorities — especially those with large Black populations — had a greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s. 

According to the study, women’s risk for Alzheimer’s was 1.13 times higher compared to men. Meanwhile, people of color we also more predisposed: Rates among Black seniors were about 2.5 times higher than those among white seniors.

But gender and race weren’t the only factors — researchers said the risk for Alzheimer’s increases “exponentially” with age. According to the report, people ages 75 to 79 were roughly three times more likely to have the disease compared to those ages 65 to 69, and rates were about 15 times higher among those ages 85 and up.

For a more detailed breakdown of states and counties, check out the lists below.

Top 10 states where Alzheimer’s disease is most common

  1. Maryland (12.9% of the population 65 and older)
  2. New York (12.7%)
  3. Mississippi (12.5%)
  4. Florida (12.5%)
  5. Louisiana (12.4%)
  6. New Jersey (12.3%) 
  7. California (12.0%)
  8. Illinois (12.0%)
  9. Georgia (12.0%)
  10.  Connecticut (11.9%)

Top 10 counties for Alzheimer’s disease

  1. Miami-Dade County, Florida (16.6%)
  2. Baltimore City, Maryland (16.6%)
  3. Bronx County, New York (16.6%)
  4. Prince George’s County, Maryland (16.1%)
  5. Hinds County, Mississippi (15.5%)
  6. Orleans Parish, Louisiana (15.4%)
  7. Dougherty County, Georgia (15.3%)
  8. Orangeburg County, South Carolina (15.2%)
  9. Imperial County, California (15%)
  10.  El Paso County, Texas (15%)