Greater dementia risk in ethnic minorities. A study reveals that the common risk factors for dementia have a more significant impact on black and Asian individuals, emphasizing the need to address health inequalities.
Alarming Dementia Projections
By 2050, the global population of adults living with dementia is set to nearly triple to reach 153 million. This alarming trajectory presents a rapidly growing threat to healthcare systems across the world.
Dementia Risk Factors Amplified in Ethnic Minorities
While risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes are known contributors to dementia, they are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. New research suggests that not only are these risk factors more common in ethnic minorities, but they also exert a more pronounced impact on their risk of developing dementia compared to white individuals.
The Study’s Insights
The study, published in Plos One, analyzed health data from 865,674 adults in England from 1997 to 2018. It discovered that 12.6% of the cohort developed dementia, comprising 16% white individuals, 8.6% south Asian, 12.1% black, and 9.7% from other ethnic minorities. The risk factors considered included obesity, diabetes, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia (an imbalance of lipids that can lead to heart disease).
Ethnic Disparities in Dementia Risk Factors
The study found variations in the impact of these risk factors on dementia risk among different ethnic groups:
High blood pressure link to a higher dementia risk in black individuals compared to white individuals.
In south Asian individuals, higher dementia risk associate with sleep disorders, diabetes, low HDL cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
High blood pressure had 1.57 times more impact on dementia risk in south Asian individuals and 1.18 times more impact in black individuals compared to white patients.
The research offers insights into “greater susceptibility, earlier age of dementia onset, and shorter survival after dementia diagnosis in minority ethnic groups.”
Equitable Dementia Prevention
The authors of the study emphasize the need for tailored dementia prevention that accounts for ethnicity and risk-factor profiles to ensure equitable dementia prevention.
Addressing Health Inequalities
David Thomas from Alzheimer’s Research UK highlights the impact of health disparities in ethnic minorities on their susceptibility to dementia. He underlines the necessity for a comprehensive, cross-government prevention strategy to address these health inequalities.
Understanding Early Alzheimer’s Symptoms
A separate UCL study found that individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the leading cause of dementia, face difficulties with turning while walking. Researchers studied around 100 people and discovered that those with early Alzheimer’s consistently overestimated their turns and experienced a higher variability in their sense of direction. These findings provide valuable insights into one of the earliest noticeable changes in individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Sian Gregory from the Alzheimer’s Society notes that navigational difficulties are among the initial noticeable symptoms of the disease. Understanding these challenges offers an opportunity to alleviate the impact of dementia, underscoring the need for both public health and political strategies to address the issue.