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Diabetes, Hypertension Hasten Death in Alzheimer's Patients

They're more than twice as likely to die sooner, study finds

MONDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Having diabetes or high blood pressure may hasten the death of people with Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.

According to the study, published in the Nov. 4 issue of Neurology, Alzheimer's patients with diabetes were twice as likely to die sooner than those with the dementia condition but no diabetes. Those with Alzheimer's and high blood pressure were two-and-a-half times more like to die sooner than those with normal blood pressure.

"Studies show that the average life span of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer's can be anywhere from three to nine years. For that person and their caregiver, every minute counts. Here we have two controllable factors that may drastically affect how long that person can survive," study author Yaakov Stern, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

The study, involving more than 300 people, also found Hispanics live longer after an Alzheimer's diagnosis than either non-Hispanic whites or blacks. Hispanics lived for eight years after diagnosis, blacks lived an average of five years and non-Hispanic whites about four years.

However, after adjusting for gender and other factors, the results were no longer significant.

"Though these findings were not significant, they are intriguing and warrant further research as to whether race affects survival time in people with Alzheimer's disease," Stern said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about the stages and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, Nov. 3, 2008

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