According to a recent study by Naaheed Mukadam of University College London, UK, and colleagues, people in some minority ethnic groups have a higher risk of dementia compared to White people because of modifiable risk factors like hypertension, obesity, diabetes, low HDL cholesterol, and sleep disorders.
Globally, the number of dementia patients is increasing. Since removing these factors might theoretically prevent about 40% of dementia cases, there has been an increase in interest in possibly modifiable risk factors. However, the majority of risk factor research has only been done on those with European ancestry.
In the new study in PLOS ONE, researchers used anonymized data from English primary care records from 1997 to 2018 to assess the association between risk variables and dementia development.
Overall, 12.6% of the study participants—16.0% of white participants, 8.6% of South Asian participants, 12.1% of Black participants, and 9.7% of participants from other ethnic groups—developed dementia. Almost all risk factors included in the study were linked to dementia, and Black and South Asian people were frequently at increased risk of dementia due to the same risk factors, notably for cardiovascular risk.
After comorbidity, age, sex, and deprivation were taken into account, Black people with hypertension had a higher risk of dementia than White people; South Asian persons with hypertension, obesity, diabetes, low HDL, and sleep disturbances had a higher risk of dementia. Hypertension increased the risk of dementia 1.18 times more in Black people than it did in White people, and 1.57 times more in South Asian people.
According to the scientists, the findings could explain earlier observations of higher susceptibility, earlier age of dementia onset, and lower survival after dementia diagnosis among minority ethnic groups. They come to the conclusion that minority ethnic groups should be the focus of dementia prevention initiatives, and risk factors should be taken into consideration.