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Objective: This study compared medical history and findings on initial clinical examination in Native Americans diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) at Native American satellite clinics of the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Center with those of Whites diagnosed with probable AD at the UT Southwestern Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Clinic. Methods: The information reviewed was contained in the database of the UT Southwestern Alzheimer's Disease Center. Results: In relation to Whites, Native Americans had slightly but significantly greater age at onset of symptoms (71.7 vs. 69.6 years, t = −2.08, p = .04) and equivalent cognitive scores at evaluation (Mini-Mental State Exam score = 17.4 vs. 18.5, t = 0.98, p = .33), despite significantly lower educational level (11.4 vs. 13.4 years, t = 5.63, p < .001). Native Americans were more frequently depressed on examination (22.8% vs. 9.5%, χ2 = 12, p = .001) and reported diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease significantly more often than did Whites (p < .01 for all), but their survival time after AD diagnosis was similar to that of Whites despite these comorbidities. Conclusions: With the exception of a greater prevalence of depression and cardiovascular risk factors in Native Americans than in Whites, Native Americans had a course of illness similar to that of Whites.
Donepezil has been shown to improve aspects of cognitive functioning in persons with Alzheimer's disease (AD), but its impact on instrumental activities of daily living has received little attention. In a within-subject design, 24 community-dwelling persons with AD were treated with open-label donepezil over a 12-month period. To assess functional abilities, a brief, objective measure of instrumental activities of daily living skills was used (Texas Functional Living Scale; TFLS). Global cognitive abilities were assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Changes in TFLS and MMSE scores were much the same. Improvements on the TFLS and MMSE were seen over a 3-month period. At 12 months, both TFLS and MMSE scores declined slightly below baseline. These results support an effect of donepezil on cognitive measures and day-to-day function and also suggest that the MMSE reflects well the actual functional ability of persons with moderate AD.
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