Hattiesburg neurologist works to change course of Alzheimer’s disease

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This year Alzheimer's disease and other dementia will cost the nation billions of dollars, with that cost growing into the trillions by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Director of Hattiesburg Clinic's Memory Center and Neurologist Dr. Ronald Schwartz said this debt will continue until prevention of this chronic disease is the first course of action.

"The overall cost to society, the estimates are, we are pushing up to over $10 trillion dollars," Schwartz said.

Schwartz said that's the cost in the U.S. right now with 5.7 million people living with the disease. That's why he believes preventative care is the answer.

"The goal of the research focus is to find this as early as we can," Schwartz said.

Schwartz also serves as the principal investigator for more than 30 clinical trials in Alzheimer's Disease and cognitive impairment. He said finding the disease before symptoms start and treating people with risk factors could change the course of this disease.

"You have a prevention study, where we can prevent you from progressing into Alzheimer's disease, so if we can slow the whole thing down by just five years, we cut the overall cost in half," Schwartz explained.

He said even if there is no way to cure it his research focus and clinical trials across the country are trying to slow the disease down by making preventative care for this disease as common as care for cholesterol or diabetes.

"We're getting to the point where we can think of it like that," Schwartz said. "So the focus is finding it early and finding some way to quote modify the course of the disease and that's what a lot of the new research trials are trying to figure out."