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Posted: April 29, 2008

Whites Die Sooner with Alzheimer's than Other Races

Whites diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease tend to die sooner after developing the mind-robbing disease than those patients with other racial backgrounds, according to a study of statistics from nearly three dozen Alzheimer’s centers in the United States.
Interestingly, whites were found to die much sooner than some races – Asians, for example – while other races were closer in survival durations – American Indians, for example.
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While the reasons for this difference are not clear, lead researcher Dr. Karla Mehta of the University of California, San Francisco, says earlier death may come from a combination of factors. "Reasons for this difference may be due to management, genetic or cultural factors," Mehta told the news agency Reuters. Her report is published in the journal Neurology.
Mehta and colleagues estimated the survival rates of non-white versus white patients with Alzheimer's after reviewing data from more than 30 Alzheimer’s disease centers on more than 30,000 people with probable or possible Alzheimer's.
The average patient in Mehta’s examination was 78 years old and survived for about five years after diagnosis.
During an average follow-up of about 2-1/2 years, 41% of the whites studied had died. American Indians had the next highest mortality rate at 38%, followed by African Americans at 30%, Latinos at 21%, and Asians at 17.
While whites were at the highest risk of dying sooner, their neurological damage, as recorded through autopsies, appeared no greater than other ethnicities.
"Our study did not measure treatment or management specifically," Mehta told Reuters. "Much more research needs to be done to examine what treatment or management factors improve survival for Alzheimer's disease patients, regardless of their race/ethnic backgrounds. Treatment or management differences may be only one potential determinant of survival differences."

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