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Dementia rates in the United States have dropped 24 percent in just 12 years, according to a new study. In 2000, the rates of dementia for people over the age of 65 was 11.6 percent. The new study of 21,000 people found that in 2012 the dementia rate was only 8.4 percent. In other words, approximately 1 million fewer Americans were suffering from the affects of dementia in 2012. But what lead to this drastic change? Scientists believe increases in education and overall heart health are helping keep dementia rates down.

Dementia refers to a general loss of memory. This can occur after a major health event, such as a stroke. But Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type. Even without a direct treatment for the disease, a focus on heart and brain health may have lead to this sharp decrease in occurrence. Even with fewer people suffering from dementia, scientists say research is still needed to help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more about the drop in dementia rates in the US.

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