Ethnicity Increases Impact of Common Dementia Risk Factors


Hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and other common dementia risk factors have a greater impact on dementia risk in South Asian and Black individuals compared to White individuals, a new study found.


  • Researchers analyzed anonymized primary care data captured between 1997-2018 on 865,674 adults age 65 years and older from diverse ethnic groups.

  • Risk factors for dementia included in the analysis were hypertension, obesity, hearing loss, diabetes, smoking, depression, alcohol excess, dyslipidemia (high total cholesterol or diagnostic codes for dyslipidemia), low levels HDL cholesterol, high levels of LDL cholesterol, sleep disorders and traumatic brain injury.


  • 12.6% of all participants developed dementia, including 16% of White individuals, 8.6% of South Asian people, 12.1% of Black people and 9.7% of those from other ethnic groups.

  • All risk factors were associated with increased dementia risk in the total cohort.

  • Compared with White people, hypertension (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.57; P < .0001), obesity (aHR, 1.19; P = .04), diabetes (aHR, 1.22; P = .001), low HDL (aHR, 1.21; P = .049) and sleep disorders (aHR, 1.18; P = .002) conferred significantly greater risk to those of South Asian ethnicity.

  • Black ethnicity was associated with an increased risk of dementia in those with hypertension (aHR, 1.18; P = .029) and decreased risk of dementia in those with high LDL (aHR, 0.81; P = .005), compared with White people.


“Dementia prevention efforts should be targeted towards people from minority ethnic groups and tailored to risk factors of particular importance,” the authors write.


The lead investigator of the study was Naaheed Mukadam, PhD, of the Division of Psychiatry, University College London, United Kingdom. It was published online October 11 in PLOS ONE.


The researchers had no data on individual-level education, social isolation, air pollution, and physical activity, all of which are established dementia risk factors.


The study was funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. The authors report no relevant financial relationships.

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