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Likelihood of dementia higher among black ethnic groups

A higher proportion of people in black ethnic groups have a dementia diagnosis compared to white and Asian groups, a new study has found.

Researchers from UCL and King’s College London looked at data from 2,511,681 people, including 66,803 who had a dementia diagnosis, from a primary care database between 2007 and 2015.

Recorded rates of dementia were 25% higher among black women compared to white women, and 28% higher among black men compared to white men.

Rates for Asian women and men were 18% and 12% lower compared to white women and men respectively.

Recorded rates of dementia among black people may still be lower than actual rates, researchers said, with the study finding black men in particular are less likely to receive a timely diagnosis.

The study, published in Clinical Epidemiology, is the first national study to compare rates of dementia diagnosis by ethnicity.

The authors said more work is needed to understand the reasons for the differences seen between ethnic groups.

But they said factors such as level of formal education, financial deprivation, smoking, physical activity and mental health, which all affect dementia risk, may differ between groups.

Differing levels of care may also have a role. Dr Claudia Cooper, lead study author at UCL, said:

‘Our findings may reflect, for example, that there are inequalities in the care people receive to prevent and treat illnesses associated with dementia. Or perhaps GPs or patients’ families are reluctant to name dementia in communities where more stigma is associated with a dementia diagnosis.’

The lower dementia rates found among people of Asian descent cannot yet be explained, researchers added.

Read the full research.