Mark Lee, MA; Eric Whitse, MD, MPH; Christy Avery, PhD
Identifying modifiable risk factors that are associated with dementia burden across racial and ethnic groups in the population can yield insights into the potential effectiveness of interventions in preventing dementia and reducing disparities.
To calculate the population attributable fraction (PAF) of dementia associated with 12 established modifiable risk factors for all US adults, as well as separately by race and ethnicity.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cross-sectional study used survey data from nationally representative samples of US adults. PAFs were calculated using relative risks and prevalence estimates for 12 risk factors. Relative risks were taken from meta-analyses, as reported in a 2020 systematic review. Prevalence estimates for risk factors were derived from nationally representative cross-sectional survey data collected between 2011 and 2018. Combined PAFs were adjusted for risk factor communality using weights derived from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (1987-2018). Analyses were conducted May through October 2021.
Exposures Low education, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, hypertension, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity, diabetes, and air pollution.
Main Outcomes and Measures
PAF for each dementia risk factor, a combined PAF, and the decrease in the number of prevalent dementia cases in 2020 that would be expected given a 15% proportional decrease in each exposure.
Among all US adults, an estimated 41.0% (95% CI, 22.7%-55.9%) of dementia cases were attributable to 12 risk factors. A 15% proportional decrease in each risk factor would reduce dementia prevalence in the population by an estimated 7.3% (95% CI, 3.7%-10.9%). The estimated PAF was greater for Black and Hispanic than it was for White and Asian individuals. The greatest attributable fraction of dementia cases was observed for hypertension (PAF, 20.2%; 95% CI, 6.3%-34.4%), obesity (PAF, 20.9%; 95% CI, 13.0%-28.8%), and physical inactivity (PAF, 20.1%; 95% CI, 9.1%-29.6%). These factors were also highest within each racial and ethnic group, although the proportions varied.
Conclusions and Relevance
A large fraction of dementia cases in the US were associated with potentially modifiable risk factors, especially for Black and Hispanic individuals. Targeting and reducing these risk factors may curb the projected rise in dementia cases over the next several decades.