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Survival following dementia onset: Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.


Survival following the onset of dementia has been reported to vary from 3 to over 9 years. We examined mortality in 3602 participants of the Cardiovascular Health (CHS) Cognition Study in four US communities evaluated for dementia incidence between 1992 and 1999 and followed for 6.5 years. By June 2000, 33 of 62 (53.2%) participants who developed vascular dementia (VaD) had died compared to 79 of 245 (32.2%) with Alzheimer's disease (AD), 66 of 151 (43.7%) with both AD and VaD, and 429 of 2318 (18.5%) with normal cognition. Using Cox proportional hazards regression with a time-dependent covariate for dementia status adjusted for age, gender and race, individuals with VaD were more than four times as likely to die during follow-up than those with normal cognition (HR: 4.4, 95% CI: 3.1-6.3). The hazard ratios were 2.1 (95% CI: 1.6-2.7) for AD and 2.5 (95% CI: 1.9-3.3) for both types. Adjusted accelerated life models estimated median survival from dementia onset to death as 3.9 years for those with VaD, 7.1 years for AD, 5.4 years for mixed dementia, and 11.0 years for matched controls with normal cognition. While persons with VaD died primarily from cerebrovascular disease, those with AD/mixed dementia died more frequently from dementia/failure to thrive.

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