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Blacks, Hispanics Live Longer With Alzheimer's
Date:11/14/2007

Reason for their added survival remains unclear, scientists say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks and Hispanics appear to live longer following an Alzheimer's diagnosis than white patients, a new study suggests.

While men and women of Asian and American Indian descent diagnosed with the disease were found to have survival expectancies equivalent to that of white Alzheimer's patients, patients of Hispanic or black ethnicity were found to live 40 percent and 15 percent longer, respectively.

The observation held up even after accounting for a wide range of factors -- including age, gender, and living environment -- that could influence post-diagnosis longevity.

"This study didn't address all of the reasons why, and there's a lot more work that needs to done in this area, but we found that African-Americans and Latinos with Alzheimer's lived on average longer than white patients with Alzheimer's," said study lead author Kala M. Mehta, an assistant adjunct professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

"We were surprised by the finding," she added. "In fact, we had hypothesized that it would be in the other direction. So, now we're hoping to do more research in the area of racial and ethnic differences and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's to get at the reasons for why differences occur."

Mehta and her team reported their findings in the Nov. 14 online issue of the journal Neurology.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, more than five million Americans now have Alzheimer's. The study team pointed out that by 2050, estimates suggest that more than three million Alzheimer's patients will be of non-white origin.

Currently, the disease ranks seventh among causes of death in the United States.

To assess potential differences in Alzheimer's outcome among races, Mehta and her team analyzed data collected between 1984 and 2005 at more than 30
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