October 2, 2023

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Alzheimer’s disease among older adults is more common in these parts of the United States, and the data shows the first of its kind



CNN

Seniors living in the eastern and southeastern regions of the United States are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to new data shared at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference and published Monday in the organization’s journal.

the a report Provides the first estimates of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States at the county level. The researchers used data from thousands of individuals who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project to assess demographic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease — including age, gender and ethnicity — and plotted it against the makeup of US counties.

These demographic estimates show that rates of Alzheimer’s disease are highest in Miami-Dade County, Baltimore, and the Bronx—where one in six seniors suffers from the disease. Maryland has the highest prevalence rate statewide, followed by New York and Mississippi.

Experts say the findings may be useful to help public health leaders and organizations better support the millions living with the disease – and plan for population aging.

“Having this information is very helpful because I think it increases the urgency of the work we do,” said Dr. Halima Amjad, a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins Medicine and chair of the Maryland State Alzheimer’s Council. Did not participate in the study.

“For dementia, a lot of the care and support — through legislation or programs — is often provided at the state and local level, rather than at the national level,” Amjad said. Last year, she said, was the first year that Maryland’s state budget made specific appropriations focused on dementia care, at about $3.5 million. “So we need that focus, through planning at the public health level and supporting that planning with financial resources, to enhance the care and support that is available.”

Using demographic risk factors to estimate the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease could help capture the full burden of the disease better than what is found in medical records.

“Half or even more than half of the people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia are undiagnosed,” Amjad said. “Why it happens is complicated. Sometimes individuals and families don’t realize it’s dementia. Confuse it with normal aging. And we know doctors don’t always ask about it, so it only comes up if the family brings it up. And doctors may be reluctant to make and share a diagnosis.” “.

The risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases significantly with age. According to the report, people ages 75 to 79 were nearly three times more likely to develop the disease than those ages 65 to 69, and rates were about 15 times higher among those ages 85 and older.

Rates among senior blacks were about 13% higher than among seniors, and rates among black seniors were 2.5 times higher than those among white seniors.

James McGill, an assistant commissioner at the Baltimore Department of Health who leads the city’s Alzheimer’s program, said the estimates don’t particularly surprise him.

“This is a majority black city, and the root of all of this is segregation in city neighborhoods that goes back decades,” he said. Lack of access to health care, healthy food, walkable neighborhoods, and more health disparities have contributed to chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which can exacerbate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

“The research seems to indicate that dementia is really increasingly associated with healthy lifestyles, so you really have to bring it down to the level of the neighborhood,” McGill said. Communication in these communities can help individuals understand and access the resources available to them to reduce their risks.

“Having data at the community level helps us educate people in those communities and helps us make the case,” he said.

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