Decline in dementia among elderly

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 10, 2008

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The rate of dementia among those older than 70 dropped from 1993 to 2002, according to a study published online last month in Alzheimer's & Dementia.

"Brain health among older Americans seems to have improved," said Kenneth Langa, MD, PhD, lead author and associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

Researchers analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey of a nationally representative sample of older adults sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. The rate of cognitive impairment in 1993 was 12.2% but declined to 8.7% in 2002.

The authors suspect that this phenomenon may be linked to higher educational attainment at the latter time point as well as increasing use of strategies to protect the heart and vascular system.

"What we may be seeing here is the accumulated effects of better education and better cardiovascular prevention," Dr. Langa said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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