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### Mortality Trends of Alzheimer’s Disease among American Indian and Alaska Native Populations: Exploring Social Determinants of Health

Study examines if social determinants of health account for disparities in estimated increase by 20…

In a recent study by NIMHD, researchers investigated whether social determinants of health (SDOH) contribute to disparities in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) diagnoses among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals projected for 2060. The study highlighted the impact of factors such as birth, development, living conditions, work environment, and exposure to SDOH on overall health outcomes. Understanding and addressing SDOH is essential for promoting health equity and well-being.

The research involved a detailed analysis comparing AD mortality rates among AI/AN populations from 2011 to 2019 using data from the CDC National Vital Statistics System. Factors such as the proportion of AI/AN individuals, availability of physicians at the state level, food insecurity levels, and rural-urban continuum codes were considered in the vertical analysis.

Among the 3,024 fatalities observed in the 646 Indian Health Service treatment delivery regions studied, a concerning 22% increase in mortality rates was noted over the nine-year period. Interestingly, the study revealed a 20% lower risk of AD mortality among AI/AN residents living in rural counties. Surprisingly, regions with higher concentrations of AI/AN individuals experienced lower AD mortality rates, with a 14% risk reduction for every 10% increase in the AI/AN population percentage. Additionally, counties with higher poverty levels exhibited a 34% higher risk of AD-related deaths compared to less deprived areas.

These findings underscore the need for further investigation into whether societal resilience within AI/AN communities acts as a protective factor against AD. Efforts should be directed towards enhancing access to treatment, raising disease awareness, and providing support to AI/AN residents in rural areas. Continued research and targeted interventions are crucial in addressing the complexities of AD disparities in these populations.

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Last modified: February 25, 2024
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