Implications of Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada’s Indigenous Population


  • Julia Petrasek MacDonald University of Waterloo
  • Deborah E. Barnes University of California San Francisco; San Francisco Veterans’ Affairs Medical Centre
  • Laura E. Middleton University of Waterloo



Alzheimer’s disease, Canada, indigenous, risk factors, population attributable risk



Indigenous peoples in Canada have higher prevalence of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The relative importance of these risk factors on AD risk management is poorly understood.


Relative risks from literature and prevalence of risk factors from Statistics Canada or the First Nations Regional Health Survey were used to determine projected population attributable risk (PAR) associated with modifiable risk factors for AD (low education and vascular risk factors) among on- and off-reserve Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada using the Levin formula.


Physical inactivity had the highest PAR for AD among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada (32.5% [10.1%– 51.1%] and 30.5% [9.2%–48.8%] respectively). The PAR for most modifiable risk factors was higher among Indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly among on-reserve groups. The greatest differences in PAR were for low educational attainment and smoking, which were approximately 10% higher among Indigenous peoples in Canada. The combined PAR for AD for all six modifiable risk factors was 79.6% among on-reserve Indigenous, 74.9% among off-reserve Indigenous, and 67.1% among non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. (All differences significant to p < .001.)


Modifiable risk factors are responsible for the most AD cases among Indigenous peoples in Canada. Further research is necessary to determine the prevalence of AD and the impact of risk factor modification among Indigenous peoples in Canada.


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How to Cite

Petrasek MacDonald J, Barnes DE, Middleton LE. Implications of Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease in Canada’s Indigenous Population. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2015 Jul. 7 [cited 2023 Jun. 3];18(3):152-8. Available from:



Original Research