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African Americans at Greater Risk to Develop Alzheimer’s Disease

According to CDC, the number of Alzheimer’s disease cases is predicted to rise to an estimated 14 million people by 2060. Unfortunately, African Americans are twice as likely as whites to develop the disease—and scientists may have found a biological clue that may help explain why.

A 2019 study of 1,255 people, both black and white, found that cerebrospinal fluid from African Americans tended to contain lower levels of the tau protein, a protein linked to Alzheimer’s. However, these low levels did not seem to protect African Americans from developing the disease. This led scientists to conclude that the disease may develop differently in African Americans and because of that, they may be more vulnerable to the disease.

This study did not address other underlying factors that may impact why African Americans are more at risk, including higher instances of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Researchers have also presented evidence that stress and poverty as well as lower levels of education and greater exposure to discrimination are also possible risk factors.

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. It is also the most common cause of dementia among older adults. In most people, symptoms first appear in their mid-60s. But in rare cases, Alzheimer’s can start to occur as early as age 30.

The best way to get ahead of this disease is to take charge of your brain health. One way is to watch what you eat. According to the National Institute of Aging, following the Mediterranean Diet can help lower high blood pressure, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Increasing your physical activity can also help prevent the disease.

There are additional resources you can use to protect yourself. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s recently launched BrainGuide, a brain health platform. Once you take their confidential memory questionnaire, they offer tailored education and resources to help you find the best next steps in your brain health journey.

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