Dementia May Contribute to More Deaths Than Previously Thought

Association between dementia and mortality may be underestimated by nearly threefold

elderly couple

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. mortality burden associated with dementia may be underestimated by vital statistics, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in JAMA Neurology.

Andrew C. Stokes, Ph.D., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues used the Health and Retirement Study to identify 7,342 adults (aged 70 to 99 years at baseline) with baseline assessment in 2000 and follow-up through 2009.

The researchers found that the percentage of deaths attributable to dementia was 13.6 percent between 2000 and 2009. Non-Hispanic Black participants (24.7 percent) had a significantly higher mortality burden of dementia than non-Hispanic White participants (12.2 percent). The burden was also higher among adults with less than a high school education (16.2 percent) versus those with a college education (9.8 percent). Based on analysis of death certificates, the underlying cause of death recorded underestimated the contribution of dementia to U.S. mortality by a factor of 2.7.

"The findings of this study suggest that dementia may represent a more important factor in U.S. mortality than indicated by routine mortality statistics, highlighting the need to expand population-based interventions focused on dementia prevention and care," the authors write.

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