Black and Hispanic people in the US show symptoms of dementia that may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease earlier than their white counterparts.
Sangeeta Gupta at Delaware State University analysed responses to a national survey in the US in which 179,852 people aged 45 and older self-reported symptoms including memory loss and confusion. These are early signs that someone could go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
She found that Black and Hispanic people were more likely to report early symptoms of cognitive decline between the ages of 45 and 54, while white people were more likely to be over 65.
This group of Black and Hispanic people was more likely to have less education, have lower annual household incomes and a lack of access to health care. Less than half of these individuals had discussed their symptoms with a health care provider.
“Given the association of Alzheimer’s disease with dependence and disability for a long duration, the earlier the detection, the sooner people and their families can receive information regarding better management,” says Gupta.
Adverse social circumstances along with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, seem to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias among ethnic minority individuals while reducing their quality of life, says Gupta.
Compared with the white cohort, those ethnic minority individuals with symptoms of cognitive decline reported that their symptoms were more likely to interfere with work, household chores and social activities.
“Racial and ethnic minority populations continue to be underrepresented in health-related fields from all angles,” says Marcia Gómez at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities in the US. “To address health disparities and truly level the field for all populations in society, more effort is needed to research and address how to be more responsive to these issues.”
Journal reference: BMC Public Health, DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-11068-1
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