Half of Native Americans Older Than 70 Years May Have Cognitive Impairment

Vascular and neurodegenerative injuries are approximately equally responsible for cognitive impairment
Half of Native Americans Older Than 70 Years May Have Cognitive Impairment
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FRIDAY, May 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of Native Americans aged 70 years and older have cognitive impairment, according to a study published online May 15 in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

Astrid M. Suchy-Dicey, Ph.D., from the Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena, California, and colleagues used data from the Strong Heart Study (11 American Indian Tribes) to estimate the prevalence of dementia in these populations.

The researchers found that among American Indians (aged 70 to 95 years), 54 percent had cognitive impairment, including 10 percent with dementia. Vascular brain injury and Alzheimer disease equally contributed to primary etiology (>40 percent). Among those with dementia, apolipoprotein E ε4 carrier status was more common. Among those with cognitive impairment, plasma pTau, glial fibrillary acidic protein, and neurofilament light chain were higher, but amyloid beta was not. Compared with other populations, even for the unimpaired, mean scores for common dementia screening instruments were relatively low.

"These results underscore that cognitive impairment among elder American Indians is highly prevalent, more than previously thought," Amy S. Kelley, M.D., deputy director of the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement. "Considering how these new prevalence figures for American Indians are much higher than other groups, as we continue to pursue prevention strategies and treatments, it is imperative that we address health disparities to help us find solutions that will work for all older adults."

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