Cognitive impairment linked to reduced survival regardless of race

Jun 08, 2009

Alzheimer's disease and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, appear to be associated with an increased risk of death among both white and African American older adults, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Alzheimer's reduces life expectancy and has emerged as a leading cause of death in the United States, according to background information in the article. "Data from two national surveys suggest that life expectancy among patients with Alzheimer's disease may be greater for African Americans than for whites," the authors write. "However, not all surveys have reported this difference. Furthermore, in these surveys, the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is not based on a uniform clinical evaluation but derived from medical records, increasing the likelihood of substantial variation in the quality of diagnostic classifications."

Robert S. Wilson, Ph.D., and colleagues at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, studied 1,715 older adults (average age 80.1, 52.5 percent African American) from four adjacent neighborhoods in Chicago. Each participant had a clinical evaluation that included medical history, a neurological examination and cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) function testing. Based on these evaluations, an experienced physician diagnosed 296 (17.3 percent) of the participants with Alzheimer's disease, 597 (34.8 percent) with and 20 (1.2 percent) with other forms of dementia, while 802 (46.8 percent) had no cognitive impairment.

During up to 10 years of follow-up (average observation period, 4.7 years) 634 individuals died (37 percent), including 25.8 percent of those without cognitive impairment, 40.4 percent of those with mild cognitive impairment, 59.1 percent of those with Alzheimer's disease and 60 percent of those with other forms of dementia. "Compared with people without cognitive impairment, risk of death was increased by about 50 percent among those with mild cognitive impairment and was nearly three-fold greater among those with Alzheimer's disease," the authors write. "These effects were seen among African Americans and whites and did not differ by race."

Among individuals with mild cognitive impairment, risk of death increased as cognitive impairment became more severe, another association that did not differ by race. A similar association between disease severity and survival was seen among patients with Alzheimer's disease, although that effect was slightly stronger for African Americans than for whites.

"Overall, these results do not suggest strong racial differences in survival for persons with mild and Alzheimer's disease," the authors conclude.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals (news : web)

Explore further: Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Education protects against pre-Alzheimer's memory loss

Oct 20, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People with more education and more mentally demanding occupations may have protection against the memory loss that precedes Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the October 21, 2008, ...

Loss of scent sense linked to Alzheimer's

Jul 04, 2007

A new study shows seniors who have trouble identifying scents are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than people who knew soap smell from cinnamon.

Recommended for you

Abandoned asbestos mines still a hazard in India

54 minutes ago

Asbestos waste spills in a gray gash down the flank of a lush green hill above tribal villages in eastern India. Three decades after the mines were abandoned, nothing has been done to remove the enormous, ...

Evidence plays limited role in OTC decision making

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For pharmacy graduates and tutors, evidence seems to play a limited role in over-the-counter decision making, according to a study published online Dec. 11 in the Journal of Evaluation in Cl ...

User comments : 0

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.