College of DuPage Nursing Student Sadie Baker found that a study published in the journal, Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders in 2011, demonstrated a pattern between Americans aged 65-89 who were born in the ‘stroke belt’ states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama) with an increased rate of dementia-related mortality. The study’s findings were compared with individuals of similar age, sex, and race born outside of ‘stroke belt’ states. The geographic patterns of dementia related mortalities were in the same direction of, and comparable in magnitude, to the geographic patterns of stroke; the pattern of stroke earned these states the nickname, “stroke belt”. The authors note the increased diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer Disease in the stroke belt compared with other states contributing to Alzheimer Disease that may affect the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer Disease, in addition to a contributing nutritional factor. Individuals who were born in this region may have experienced a higher incidence of poverty as children, thereby affecting nutritional adequacy.
Nutritional inadequacy may increase the risk of dementia from poverty, according to previous research that has been performed. The authors also accounted for discrepancies in death certificates and their coding in these states. They took into account migration patterns, comparing mortality rates with people who were born in the stroke belt and moved, to those who were born outside of the stroke belt but migrated into it. Despite these migration patterns, their results remained the same.
Glymour, M. M., Kosheleva, A., Wadley, V. G., Weiss, C., & Manly, J. J. (2011). The Geographic Distribution of Dementia Mortality: Elevated Mortality Rates for Black and White Americans By Place of Birth. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3383774/