July 09, 2021
Ethnic factors identified in dementia prevention
More than half of cases of dementia among Māori could be preventable, according to a University of Auckland study.
Co-author Etuini Ma’u from the university’s Department of Psychological Medicine says Aotearoa’s surging rates of dementia can be limited by targeting 12 potentially modifiable risk factors that vary across ethnic groups.
For Māori and Pacific peoples that’s likely to be hearing loss and lower education levels, while for Europeans it’s social isolation and hearing loss, and for those of Asian ethnicity – physical inactivity.
Other factors identified in a 2020 Lancet report include smoking, depression, obesity, hypertension, alcohol, traumatic brain injury, smoking, diabetes, and air pollution.
The number of people in New Zealand with dementia is forecast to increase from 70,000 today to 170,000 by 2050.
Dr Ma’u says in the absence of a cure for dementia, prevention needs to become a public health priority to stem the surge, with strategies tailored toward the most relevant risk factors within each ethnic group.
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