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Alzheimer’s Insights: African-Americans may be at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Scott Finley

February is Black History Month – and among many great achievements to celebrate are those of Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller.

Dr. Fuller lived from 1872 – 1953, and performed ground-breaking research on the physical changes that take place in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.   Dr. Fuller studied under Alois Alzheimer, the man for whom the disease is named.  In 1919, Dr. Fuller became part of the faculty at Boston University School of Medicine, where he stayed until 1933.  From then until his death, he held a private practice as a physician, neurologist and psychiatrist.

Fast forward to today.  Did you know African-Americans may be at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease than Caucasian Americans?   In fact, they are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s as whites.  Alzheimer’s is the 4th leading cause of death among older African-Americans.  Why?

First, African-Americans have a higher risk for diabetes compared to Caucasian Americans.  Diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

Second, high blood pressure is more common among African-Americans, and a person with high blood pressure or high cholesterol may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

Third, African-Americans may have a higher rate of vascular dementia compared to Caucasian Americans.

For more information, the Alzheimer’s Association will present “Hope for Tomorrow,” a Black/African American Alzheimer’s caregiver conference on Saturday, February 20 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. online. While the event is free, registration is encouraged.  Participants can go to www.tinyurl.com/AACGSEM2021 or call the Association 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.

And just a reminder – you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 emergency preparedness guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

 The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

 Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org