Dementia Risk and Race
What’s race got to do with it? When it comes to dementia, race and ethnicity have a measurable impact on a person’s risk of developing the brain disease. After a 14 year-long study, findings were released by Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. Studying a sample of more than 274,000 members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, researchers wanted to know the incidence of dementia among six different ethnic groups. Those groups were: African-Americans, Alaska Natives, Latino, Caucasian, Asian- Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Using previously determined dementia incidence rates and calculations of a person’s lifetime risk for developing the disease, researchers estimated the percentage of individuals without dementia before age 65 in each group who can expect to be diagnosed with dementia over the next 25 years. The results are astounding. (Refer to Graphic.)
When you break that number down by gender, risk increases for African-American women. Dementia rates were 60% higher among African-American women than for Asian-American women. For men, that number jumps to 93% when comparing African-American men to Asian men. Some researchers believe that this increase in risk for African-Americans may be due to a genetic predisposition. Survival after diagnosis varies by race and ethnicity, as well. Caucasians tend to have the shortest survival rate of 3.1 years and Asian-Americans have the longest survival rate, 4.4 years. Latinos follow close behind at 4.1 years.