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Think Science: Dementia in South Texas

 TPR's Nathan Cone, Dr. Sudha Seshadri
Kristin Quintanilla
TPR's Nathan Cone, UT Health's Dr. Sudha Seshadri, Dr. Claudia Satizabal.

Startling statistics from Dr. Sudha Seshadri were presented at Texas Public Radio and UT Health San Antonio's Think Science event on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, focused on dementia in South Texas. Dr. Seshadri led the discussion early on by sharing, "South Texas is about 80% Hispanic. Our city is about 65% Hispanic. Hispanics on an average have a 50% higher risk of developing dementia. And unfortunately, the risk is pretty high. If we don't do anything, if we as a group don't do anything, one in three of us will develop dementia at some time before we die. And that's just unacceptable."

Dr. Seshadri was joined by Dr. Claudia Satizabal for the hour-plus long discussion, moderated by TPR's Nathan Cone. (You can listen to the presentation using the audio player at the top of this page.)

The discussion placed particular stress on risk factors for dementia and related diseases, including hypertension, cardiovascular health, diabetes, and even hearing loss.

Dr. Satizabal briefly spoke about the need to bring a more diverse sample group to studies at the Biggs Institute, and shared how UT Health is going to update a major study that ran from 1979 to 2005—the San Antonio Heart and Mind Study will bring back participants from the original sample to study brain aging as well as revisiting the original study's goal, looking at the way diabetes contributes to cardiovascular disease.

Those interested in participating in further studies with the Biggs Institute are invited to sign up at: https://biggsinstitute.org/

Audience questions and topics addressed at the event include:

  • The relationship between alcohol use and dementia
  • Whether COVID, or the COVID vaccinations, have any relationship to early onset dementia
  • Environmental factors that can contribute to dementia
  • Tinnitus causing dementia? "There's no evidence to suggest that."
  • What symptoms should lead someone to get screened for dementia?
  • Stress and the brain

TPR's production of this Think Science event is made possible by San Antonio Water System, Bihl Haus Arts, Ellie Mental Health and The San Antonio Vascular and Endovascular Clinic.


Dr. Sudha Seshadri completed her M.B.B.S. from the Christian Medical College, Madras University, and her M.D. in internal medicine and D.M. in neurology from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. Additionally, she completed a residency in neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine and a fellowship in the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. She previously worked as assistant professor of neurology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and professor of neurology and attending neurologist at the Boston University School of Medicine.

As founding director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Dr. Seshadri oversees, integrates and coordinates all activities of the Biggs Institute, which will share space in a new Center for Brain Health building with UT Health San Antonio’s Department of Neurology. The neurology department, offering care and research of Parkinson’s disease, ALS and other disorders, is part of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano School of Medicine.

Dr. Seshadri enjoys a superb reputation in both science and clinical care and is a recognized thought leader in Alzheimer’s disease, having recently co-authored position papers disseminated by the National Academy of Sciences on "Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward,"  and by the American Heart Association on "Defining Optimal Brain Health in Adults." She has lectured extensively, nationally and internationally on Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and the genetics of stroke and vascular brain injury.

Claudia Satizabal, PhD, is an epidemiologist currently working as an assistant professor at the Biggs Institute at UT Health San Antonio, where she leads the Population Neuroscience Core. Dr. Satizabal’s research focuses on lifestyle and genetic factors contributing to healthy brain aging versus those leading to dementia. In her current work, she is investigating markers to identify persons at risk of dementia before irreversible damage, the role of the gut microbiome on Alzheimer’s disease, and the continuation of a local cohort study (the San Antonio Heart and Mind Study, or SAHMS) to better understand brain aging in our community. She is also actively involved in national and international collaborations to advance dementia research.