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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Feb;47(2):189-95.

Prevalence and risks of dementia in the Japanese population: RERF's adult health study Hiroshima subjects. Radiation Effects Research Foundation.

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Department of Clinical Studies, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, Hiroshima, Japan.



To study the prevalence rate of dementia and its subtypes in Japan and to investigate the relationship of risk factors, such as demographic features and disease history, to the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia.


A prevalence study within a longitudinal cohort study.


The original Adult Health Study (AHS) cohort consisted of atomic-bomb survivors and their controls selected from residents in Hiroshima and Nagasaki using the 1950 national census supplementary schedules and the Atomic Bomb Survivors Survey. Since 1958, the AHS subjects have been followed through biennial medical examinations.


Subjects were 637 men and 1585 women aged 60 years or older in the AHS cohort. Forty-eight subjects resided in hospitals and institutions.


In addition to the biennial medical examinations ongoing since 1958, a screening test for cognitive impairment (CASI) was conducted by trained nurses between September 1992 and September 1996. The prevalence of dementia and its subtypes was assessed in 343 subjects suspected to have dementia and in 272 subjects with high CASI scores who were selected randomly.


The prevalence of dementia based on DSM III/R criteria, using neurological examination, the IQCODE, and CDR > or = 1, was 7.2%. The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease was 2.0% in men and 3.8% in women, and the prevalence of vascular dementia was 2.0% in men and 1.8% in women. The relationship of risk factors to Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia was investigated by the multivariate logistic linear regression analysis. Odds ratios of Alzheimer's disease for age (in 10-year increments), attained education (in 3-year increments), history of head trauma, and history of cancer are 6.3, 0.6, 7.4, and 0.3, respectively. Odds ratios of vascular dementia for age, history of stroke, and history of hypertension are 2.0, 35.7, and 4.0, respectively. Neither type of dementia showed any significant effect of sex or radiation exposure.


This study is the first study of Japanese dementia rates carried out with a protocol similar enough to that of a US study to allow meaningful comparisons. The prevalence rates demonstrated are more similar to US rates than were found in many previous reports in Japan.

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