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U.S. veterans as a group share some unique risks for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia, such as traumatic brain injury and PTSD. A new 20-year study has found both rising and falling rates of prevalence and incidence within different categories of impairment and disease.

Investigators used electronic health record data for all veterans aged 50 years and older who received Veterans Health Administration care from 2000 to 2019. 

They observed varied trends across twenty years of data. This included a sharp increase in the prevalence and incidence of mild cognitive impairment, especially after 2010. In addition, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) rose from 1.07% in 2000 to 1.50% in 2019. Investigators attributed much of the change in the ADRD category to a rising prevalence of unspecified dementias.

In fact, annual prevalence and incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by itself declined, as did new cases of ADRD over the study period. 

The prevalence and incidence of AD, ADRD, and MCI were highest not only in the oldest veterans, but also in female veterans, and African American and Hispanic veterans.

The study was published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

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