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March 25, 2019

Health and Socioeconomic Inequities as Contributors to Brain Health

Author Affiliations
  • 1Global Brain Health Institute, University of California, San Francisco, and Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • 3Cognitive and Behavior Research Unit, National Institute of Neurology, La Habana, Cuba
  • 4Memory and Aging Center, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Neurol. 2019;76(6):633-634. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.0362

Population aging will lead to a dramatic increase in dementia prevalence across the world. Dementia is the most costly illness in the United States, with an estimated yearly expenditure around $200 billion.1 Differences in rates of dementia among diverse populations have garnered recent attention, and it is now accepted that health and socioeconomic disparities are stronger determinants than race or cultural identifiers of the differences in dementia prevalence.2 While the leading risk factors for dementia, including age and genetic risk, are not yet modifiable, a reasonable proportion of risks are attributable to conditions that can be changed across an individual’s life span.3 Dementia prevention depends on actions that promote brain health. Access to quality education, healthy diet, and the treatment of conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, and smoking) that are major risk factors for developing dementia are not equally available across different countries or even between different regions of the same country. Therefore, health and socioeconomic disparities are contributors to brain health.

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