Alzheimer’s Association bringing awareness to increased risk during Hispanic Heritage Month

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The annual commemoration of National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 – is a celebration of the many social, cultural and scientific contributions that Latino and Hispanic men and women have made to the United States and to celebrate their diversity, culture and traditions. 

During this time of Hispanic recognition, the Alzheimer’s Association said it’s important to remember that the group is at a 50% higher risk than their white counterparts for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

“The health disparity between people of color … and whites is startling, but the Alzheimer’s Association is focusing increased resources to better understand the reasons why,” Ronnie Daniel, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah, said in a press release. 

The recent global Alzheimer’s research conference, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, drew over 33,000 researchers from 163 countries. At the conference, one report addressed the issue by indicating that the genetic predictors of Alzheimer’s risk may differ among Hispanics of different backgrounds and between Hispanic and white individuals. 

“This suggests that at-home genetic tests claiming to give information about Alzheimer’s risk based on the ApoE-e4 gene — the gene with the strongest impact on Alzheimer’s risk for white, European-based populations — would appear to have a weaker effect on some Latin American populations,” Daniel said. 

While research continues, researchers believe that variations in medical conditions, health-related behaviors and socioeconomic factors likely account for most of the differences in risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias in Hispanic/Latin American populations. Specifically, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are more prevalent in these communities.

Additionally, socioeconomic characteristics, including lower levels and quality of education, higher rates of poverty and greater exposure to adversity and discrimination, may also increase risk in those communities. 

“More research is needed to provide actionable ways to reduce risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially in Hispanics who are disproportionately affected,” Daniel said. 

Community participation needed

While the Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research, and U.S. government investment in Alzheimer’s research has increased more than four-fold in the past five years, it is equally important that members of the Hispanic/Latino communities volunteer to participate in ongoing Alzheimer’s research to ensure that they are well- represented in research trials. 

To that end, the Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch is a free, easy-to-use clinical studies matching service that connects individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers and healthy volunteers with current research studies.

The association’s continuously updated database of Alzheimer’s clinical studies includes hundreds of pharmacological and nonpharmacological studies being conducted at sites across the country and online. 

Individuals interested in exploring Alzheimer’s research trials can call the association’s free 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900 or email trialmatch@alz.org

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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