Treating Medical Comorbidities Associated with Dementia Among Latinos

  • Samuel C. GableEmail author
  • Maureen K. O’Connor


Latinos in the United States (U.S.) experience greater prevalence and worse course for certain health conditions associated with dementia when compared to the general population. Close scrutiny of these discrepancies is crucial in order to improve the early and accurate detection of neurodegenerative processes, as well as intervene in potentially treatable causes of cognitive decline. Such scrutiny involves the examination of biological and sociocultural contributors of medical comorbidities among different Latino subgroups, with the largest U.S.-residing populations being Mexican Americans and Caribbean Latinos. This chapter will review the medical comorbidities most often associated with dementia and cognitive decline as they pertain to Latinos in the U.S., including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), thyroid disease, infectious diseases (i.e., HIV, hepatitis C), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), depression, alcohol abuse, and nutritional deficiencies (i.e., vitamin B12, folate). Following this section, the four major dementias are reviewed with an emphasis on the prevalence, genetics, pathology, and clinical presentation for Latino populations: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), vascular dementia (VaD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), and Lewy body dementias (LBD), including dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD).


Dementia Health Disparities Hispanics Latinos Medical Comorbidities 



Latinos are a diverse, large minority population within the U.S. with unique trends in dementia and medical comorbidities. In particular, a higher rate of metabolic and vascular disorders places Latinos at a greater risk for cerebrovascular burden, which in turn is likely to influence the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia in particular. Continued research is necessary to further understand the specific genetic contributors of populations originating from Latin America in regard to dementia prevalence and course, as well as medical comorbidities. Important differences in social/cultural and biological variables exist between particular subgroups of Latinos, with the major divisions considered in the literature being between Latinos of Mexican or Caribbean origin. Socioeconomic variables such as poverty, access to quality healthcare, educational history, immigration history, English-language acquisition, and acculturation to the U.S. society are also important considerations in clinical practice when working with elderly Latinos in the context of neurodegenerative diseases and medical comorbidities.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Massachusetts BostonBostonUSA
  2. 2.Bedford Veterans Hospital, Center for Translational Cognitive NeuroscienceBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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