It’s a number-one ranking no one wants. Tennessee has the highest rate of dementia-linked deaths in the United States.

The ranking, compiled by financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall St., came from analysis of data from the National Vital Statistics System, which is maintained by the National Center for Health Statistics.

It shows 90 per 100,000 Tennesseans’ deaths between 2000 and 2017 were due to dementia-related causes.

24/7 Wall St. editor in chief Doug McIntyre said dementia is indiscriminate. “It doesn’t spare men, women or race. This is something that’s a killer across all of those areas,” he said.

Education, health and environment can all play a role in development of dementia.

Research has determined some 5.8 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. And according to Laura Pate, programs and education manager for Alzheimer’s Association Tennessee, that more often than not leads down the slippery slope to dementia. “Dementia is an umbrella, and 86 percent of that umbrella is Alzheimer’s disease,” she said.

Pate said health and lifestyle also are contributing factors – properly managed stress levels, a balanced diet and adequate sleep are important in keeping dementia at bay.

But apparently geography isn’t a factor, because Arkansas ranks 19th in the report, and Mississippi came in at number 21.

McIntyre said dementia is becoming one of the leading causes of death in the United States; and, he stressed, “as the population ages, it’s only going to climb higher.”

To learn more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, contact the Alzheimer’s Association information hotline at 800-272-3900. Its staffed 24/7.

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