Why is AD More Prevalent Among Minorities?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

With yesterday's release of the Alzheimer's Association's report (2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures), one aspect of the report has been greatly emphasized in the press over the past day and a half. I refer to the report's stark conclusion that African-Americans and Hispanics are being especially hard hit.

In fact, according to the report, older African-Americans are about twice as likely as older Whites to have Alzheimer's disease and older Hispanics are about one and a half times as likely. The most obvious conclusion that readers may jump towards is that some genetic difference predisposes risk differently across the human races. However, there is a much better explanation described in more detail by U.S. News and World Report.

Many risk factors play a role in determining the likelihood of any given individual getting Alzheimer's disease. Some of the more well-established risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke, are known to be more prevalent in certain populations. There is certainly a correlation between the higher incidence of these risk factors among African-Americans and Hispanics and the incidence of Alzheimer's disease in those populations.

The good news is that these risk factors can be controlled through medical intervention. Theoretically, this should allow us to also reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease in those populations.

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