Aboriginal Australians could be three times more likely to suffer dementia than the non-indigenous population, a new study has found.

The three-year study of how Aboriginal people age suggests a dementia rate of up to 21 per cent.

The figure is triple the 6.8 per cent rate for all Australians.

The study's author, Professor Tony Broe, conducted a census of Aboriginal people aged 60 and over in five urban and regional communities between 2009 and 2012.

Early results suggest the prevalence of dementia in those over 60 is more than 13 per cent in Aboriginal Australians.

"However, when we adjust for the younger age of the Indigenous population, the rate is 21 per cent or three times the general Australian rate of 6.8 per cent," Professor Broe said.

The results looked to be confirming earlier studies of Aboriginal people living in remote communities, he said.

"A previous study in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia found higher rates of dementia at younger ages, but research in the majority urban population has been lacking," he said.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in Aboriginal people, while vascular and head trauma dementia are also common.

Alcohol related dementia was uncommon, Professor Broe found.

"Like remote communities, however, Aboriginal people in urban areas have a disproportionately high burden of many of the risk factors," he said.

The preliminary results from the Koori Growing Old Well study will be presented at Alzheimer's Australia's national conference in Hobart on Thursday.

 

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