The Prevalence and Impact of 3 Degenerative Diseases

By Thomas Crocker
Monday, July 20, 2020

Alzheimer’s disease, irritable bowel disease and osteoarthritis place a heavy burden on patients, caregivers and the healthcare system.

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • The sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans, including 10% of people older than 65.
  • By 2050, the U.S. could see an approximate 180% increase in the number of people living with the disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are responsible for the deaths of one-third of older adults.

The effects of Alzheimer’s disease extend deep into society.

  • Each year, millions of caregivers, many of them unpaid, provide an estimated $244 billion worth of care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Currently, the U.S. spends $305 billion on the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, but that figure could top $1 trillion by mid-century.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

  • An estimated 3 million U.S. adults have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • U.S. patients account for nearly one-quarter of global IBD cases, and the U.S. has the world’s highest age-standardized prevalence rate, at 252 to 439 cases per 100,000 people.
  • Globally, cases of IBD are on the rise, having increased 85% from 1990 to 2017.
  • Crohn’s disease costs, on average, $11,345 per hospitalization, while the average cost of a hospital stay for ulcerative colitis is $13,412.


  • The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) affects an estimated 32.5 million American adults. The number of U.S. adults with arthritis is projected to surge to 78 million over the next two decades.
  • OA disproportionately affects women, who account for 62% of individuals with the disease.
  • OA costs the U.S. economy an estimated $136.8 billion each year, including $27 billion in healthcare costs. Orthopedic surgeons perform an estimated 1 million knee and hip replacements annually to treat OA.