AAIC Conference Showcases Latest CHeBA Research

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HEIDI DOUGLASS | h.douglass@unsw.edu.au

A world first study defining the global prevalence of dementia in people aged 95-110, led by the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney was reported at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago on 22 July attended by 5900 scientists and clinicians from around the world.

Study co-ordinator of CHeBA’s International Centenarian Consortium for Dementia (ICC-Dementia), Dr Yvonne Leung, and fellow colleagues examined dementia prevalence, risk factors and cognitive and functional impairment in 4,121 centenarians and near-centenarians (aged 95-110).  Data were evaluated from 17 centenarian studies conducted across 11 countries through ICC-Dementia.  

When statistical predictive models were applied to examine impairment as a function of age, sex and education, researchers found that:

  • Prevalence of dementia increased with age (from 95-99 to ≥ 105 years) in all societies for dementia (from 35.75 to 75.61 percent), cognitive impairment (from 45.24 to 78.72 percent) and functional impairment (from 67.46 to 91.55 percent).
     
  • The risk of dementia, cognitive and functional impairment varied significantly between countries, suggesting cultural and lifestyle factors play a role in remaining physically and cognitively healthy as we age.
     
  • Participants with higher levels of education expressed lower prevalence of dementia and cognitive impairment than those with fewer years of education.
     
  • Women in this age group had a higher risk of dementia and cognitive impairment compared to men.

“This is the first study to define the global prevalence of dementia in this advanced age group using a set of common diagnostic criteria,” said Dr Leung. “These data, and this type of research, may help identify protective factors to reduce the risk of dementia, and provide insights into longevity and brain health.”

Other highlights from CHeBA at this year’s AAIC included invited plenary presentation on psychosocial research in dementia from Co-Director Professor Henry Brodaty, who was also invited to deliver pre-conference presentations at the Worldwide Fingers Meeting on the 19th of September and the Professional Interest Area (PIA) on non-pharmacological interventions on Saturday, 20th September. 

Another highlight was a  one-day preconference meeting on  CHeBA’s COSMIC consortium organised by Co-Director Professor Perminder Sachdev and coordinator of COSMIC, Dr Darren Lipnicki.  This was attended by 25 researchers representing various international studies that form the COSMIC collaboration.

CHeBA staff represented strongly in poster presentation with Dr Darren Lipnicki, Dr Rebecca Koncz and Gurjeet Virk all presenting latest research on topics such as age-dependent association between body mass index (BMI) and cognitive decline in ethno-racial groups and the relationship between apolioprotein E and cognitive decline and the moderating effects of age, sex and ethnicity.  A poster on the age and sex dependent effects of APOE4 on cognition in older adults was presented by CHeBA Postdoctoral Research Fellow and statistician, Dr Steve Makkar.

Other poster presentations were given by Study Coordinator of CHeBA’s Maintain Your Brain study, Dr Megan Heffernan, highlighting risk factors for dementia in 55-75 year olds enrolled in a pilot study. 

CHeBA Research Fellow Dr Adith Mohan spoke on the final day of the conference on the genomic mechanisms of age-related changes in the human brain and Dr Steve Makkar gave an engaging coverage of outcomes from CHeBA’s COSMIC consortia touching on his research on the relationship between BMI and cognition.

Invited speaker and study Co-ordinator of CHeBA’s CogScan Study, Dr Nicole Kochan, gave a clear and concise evidence-based presentation on methods of harmonising data.  This presentation is crucially important to research groups around the world who are collaborating to share data to have power to resolve important questions about causes, risk factors and protective strategies regarding the dementias – especially Alzheimer’s disease. 

It was a privilege for CHeBA to be represented so strongly at this unique, multi-disciplinary event which brings together people from all over the world with a collective goal to change the future of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias internationally. 

Date Published: 
Thursday, 9 August 2018
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