Objective: To compare the incidence rates for AD among elderly African-American, Caribbean Hispanic, and white individuals and to determine whether coincident cerebrovascular disease contributes to the inconsistency in reported differences among ethnic groups.
Methods: This was a population-based, longitudinal study over a 7-year period in the Washington Heights and Inwood communities of New York City. Annual incidence rates for AD were calculated and compared by ethnic group, and cumulative incidence adjusted for differences in education, diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, and stroke was calculated.
Results: The age-specific incidence rate for probable and possible AD was 1.3% (95% CI, 0.8 to 1.7) per person-year between the ages of 65 and 74 years, 4.0% (95% CI, 3.2 to 4.8) per person-year between ages 75 and 84 years, and 7.9% (95% CI, 5.5 to 10.5) per person-year for ages 85 and older. Compared to white individuals, the cumulative incidence of AD to age 90 years was increased twofold among African-American and Caribbean Hispanic individuals. Adjustment for differences in number of years of education, illiteracy, or a history of stroke, hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes did not change the disproportionate risks among the three ethnic groups.
Conclusion: The incidence rate for AD was significantly higher among African-American and Caribbean Hispanic elderly individuals compared white individuals. The presence of clinically apparent cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease did not contribute to the increased risk of disease. Because the proportion of African-American and Caribbean Hispanic individuals reaching ages 65 and older in the United States is increasing more rapidly than the proportion of white individuals, it is imperative that this disparity in health among the elderly be understood.