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Data shows racial disparities in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis between Black and white research study participants

Black participants in Alzheimer’s disease research studies were 35% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related dementias than white participants, despite national statistics that indicate that Black Americans are overall about twice as likely to develop dementias than whites. The analysis of data on study participants from across NIA’s network of Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRCs) also showed that Black participants with Alzheimer’s and related dementias had more risk factors for the disease, as well as greater cognitive impairment and symptom severity than white participants. Results of the study were published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.Older adult Black couple, smiling for the camera

Previous studies have shown that for the overall U.S. population, Black Americans are roughly 1.5 to 2 times as likely than whites to develop Alzheimer’s and related dementias. For the current study, investigators wanted to further explore if there were also related racial differences in cognition, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and functional abilities in diagnosed study participants. The researchers tracked 15 years of data (2005-2020) on 5,700 Black and 31,225 white participants using the Uniform Data Set of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC), which aggregates data from ADRCs from across the country. At baseline visits, the data showed that 26.8% of Black participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, as opposed to 36.1% of white participants. The analysis also showed that Black participants had 35% lower odds of having an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis at the initial visit relative to white participants.

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Published by Chrishun Brown

Communications Manager for the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center

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