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Home Health Care: Dementia Risk Tied to Place of Birth

Jul 31, 2017 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

According to a recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, being born in a state with a high stroke mortality rate can mean an increased risk of dementia.

Higher Stroke and Heart Disease Risks

There is already an established link between a higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease based on the geographical location of individuals in the United States. Individuals in the Southeast United States, in an area known as the Stroke Belt1 have previously been identified as being more susceptible to the factors that contribute to the increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

High Stroke-Mortality States (HSMS) and Dementia

In a recent study of 7400 individuals in a California health system, the rate of dementia was higher among people born in HSMS states versus those born outside of HSMS states. Medical checkups were initially conducted on individuals when they were middle-aged between 1964 and 1973, data was collected again when they were in “later life” during the period between 1996 through 2015.2

The nine states considered HSMS states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, and West Virginia based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) mortality rates.

Higher Dementia Incidence Rates

After adjustment for age, sex, race, education, and midlife vascular risk factors, birth in HSMS was associated with a 27% increased dementia risk. Black adults born in HSMS had the highest risk.3

Socio-Economic Factors and Geography

The dementia risk factors can now be statistically linked to the same areas associated with higher risks of hypertension and the associated risks (namely stroke and end-stage renal disease). These findings are consistent with the established link of cardiovascular risks and dementia.


  1. Roccella  EJ, Lenfant  C.  Regional and racial differences among stroke victims in the United States.  Clin Cardiol. 1989;12(12)(suppl 4):IV18-IV22.
  2. Paola Gilsanz, ScD; Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, PhD; M. Maria Glymour, ScD; et al. Association Between Birth in a High Stroke Mortality State, Race, and Risk of Dementia. JAMA Neurol. Published online July 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.1553
  3. Amy Orciari Herma. Being Born in States with High Stroke Mortality Tied to Higher Dementia Risk. JAMA Neurol. Published online July 2017. http://www.jwatch.org/fw113159

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