International studies in dementia with particular emphasis on populations of African origin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

35 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies on dementia generally have 2 major interacting objectives: descriptive, where rates of dementia and Alzheimer Disease (AD) are calculated for communities and selected populations, and analytic, which attempt to explain the observed phenotypic variations in communities and populations by identifying disease risk factors. The public health benefits derived from descriptive studies are exemplified by the recent published review of the global prevalence of dementia under the auspices of Alzheimer Disease International. This review emphasized the enormous and growing burden associated with dementia particularly for countries in the developing world and outlined strategies to influence policy making, planning, and healthcare allocation. One interesting feature of descriptive studies on dementia is that although the few epidemiologic studies conducted in Africa suggest that rates of dementia and AD are relatively low, rates of AD and dementia have been reported to be relatively high for African Americans. The Indianapolis-Ibadan Dementia Project has reported that the incidence rates for AD and dementia in Yoruba are less than half the incidence rates for AD and dementia in African Americans. Analytic studies are now underway to identify risk factors that may account for these rate differences. The risk factor model being applied, attempts to identify not only putative genetic and environmental factors but also their interactions. So far the major findings have included: apolipoprotein E e4, a major risk factor for AD in most populations, is also a risk factor for AD in African Americans but not for Yoruba; African Americans are at higher risk not only for AD, but also for diseases associated with increased cardiovascular risk such as hypertension, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome; African Americans have higher rates of hypercholesterolemia than Yoruba: there is an interaction between apolipoprotein E e4, cholesterol, and AD risk in both Yoruba and African Americans. We eventually hope to create a risk factor model that will not only account for the dementia rate differences between Yoruba and African Americans, but also help explain dementia rates in other developing and developed countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S42-S46
JournalAlzheimer disease and associated disorders
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006


  • African Americans
  • Africans
  • Alzheimer disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)

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