Dementia risk greatest for older Native-Americans and African-Americans with diabetes

In the first study to look at racial and ethnic differences in dementia risk among older adults with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that dementia was much higher among Native Americans and African-Americans and lowest among Asian-Americans.

The study, published in Diabetes Care, included a group of more than 22,000 patients aged 60 or older who were members of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. Dementia was diagnosed in 3,796 patients (17.1 percent of the study cohort) during a follow-up of up to 10 years. Dementia was not present in any of the patients at the start of the study.

Compared to Asian-Americans, Native Americans were 64 percent more likely to develop dementia, and African-Americans were 44 percent more likely. Almost 20 percent (or one in five) African-Americans and Native Americans were diagnosed with dementia during the 10-year study.

"We found that in a population of elderly individuals with type 2 , there were marked differences in rates of dementia over a 10-year period by racial and ," said senior author Rachel Whitmer, PhD, research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. "Moreover, the differences were not explained by diabetes-related complications, glycemic control or duration of diabetes. Nor were they altered by factors of age, gender, neighborhood deprivation index, body mass index, or hypertension."

Among people aged 60 and above, those with have double the risk of developing dementia. Certain racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., including Latinos, African-Americans, some Asian American groups, and Native Americans, are disproportionally affected by type 2 diabetes. However, the interplay of type 2 diabetes and race/ethnicity on long-term dementia risk has not been explored previously.

"Since ethnic minorities are the fastest-growing segment of the elderly population in the United States, it is critical to determine if they are at higher risk of dementia, especially among those with type 2 diabetes," said Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, PhD, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at University of California San Francisco. "It's eye-opening to see the magnitude of ethnic and racial differences in dementia risk in a study where everyone already has type 2 diabetes."

The researchers concluded that more work is needed to identify factors that will reduce dementia risk for those with diabetes, particularly for ethnic and minority groups at highest risk. While future research is greatly needed on potential dementia prevention efforts in general, these findings suggest that certain ethnic groups within the type 2 diabetes population may benefit the most.

This study is part of an ongoing body of work to better understand dementia. Earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente researchers created the first risk score that predicts the 10-year individualized dementia risk for patients with type 2 diabetes.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Diabetes may significantly increase your risk of dementia

Sep 19, 2011

People with diabetes appear to be at a significantly increased risk of developing dementia, according to a study published in the September 20, 2011, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neu ...

Recommended for you

Economic burden of prediabetes up 74 percent over five years

Nov 20, 2014

The economic burden of diabetes in America continues to climb, exceeding more than $322 billion in excess medical costs and lost productivity in 2012, or more than $1,000 for every American, according to a study being published ...

Gynoid fat resists metabolic risks of obesity

Nov 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—The differences in the developmental profiles of upper-body and lower-body fat depots may explain their opposing associations with obesity-related metabolic disease, according to research published ...

Treating diabetes one meal at a time

Nov 19, 2014

Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050. The American Diabetes Association observes November as American Diabetes Month, and this year's theme is America ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.