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Alzheimer’s Disease May Be More Prevalent
 Among African-Americans

Study highlights need for more participation in Alzheimer’s research studies

A new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center suggests that the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease among older African-Americans may be two to three times greater than among non-Hispanic whites. Study results, published in the April 7 issue of Health Affairs, also suggest differences in risk factors and how the disease manifests itself.

“The older African-American population is growing at a rapid pace, and the burden of aging-related cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease will continue to present a tremendous challenge,” said Lisa Barnes, PhD. “This study highlights the importance of research among minority groups within the communities in which hospitals serve.”

Barnes is the primary author and director of the Rush Center of Excellence on Disparities in HIV and Aging in the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and professor of neurological sciences and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center.

“The lack of high-quality biologic data on large numbers of racial and ethnic minorities poses barriers to progress in understanding whether the mechanisms and processes of Alzheimer’s disease operate the same or differently in racial and ethnic minorities and, if so, how, particularly in the high-risk African-American population,” said Barnes.

In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that 20 percent of the population ages 65 and older was a racial or ethnic minority member. Current projections suggest that by 2050, 42 percent of the nation’s older adults will be members of minority groups. Among those ages 85 and older, 33 percent are projected to be a minority.

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