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Blacks, Hispanics Develop Alzheimer's Earlier

Studies: Symptoms appear several years sooner than in whites

WEDNESDAY, July 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Hispanic and black Americans are more likely to suffer symptoms of Alzheimer's disease at an earlier age than their white counterparts, new research says.

Hispanics suffer symptoms of the disease an average of seven years earlier than white Americans, said a study presented by Dr. Christopher Clark of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Another study found that blacks suffered much higher rates of Alzheimer's at a younger age than did whites.

Both were presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders in Philadelphia, which runs from July 17 to 22.

Blacks aged 55 to 64 years were more than three times likely to have Alzheimer's as whites, while from ages 65 to 84 they were more than twice as likely, said lead researcher James Laditka of the University of South Carolina at Columbia.

"Studies like this should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the nation," said Dr. James Jackson, a member of the Alzheimer's Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Council. "As minority populations get older, they will see a dramatic rise in their risk of Alzheimer's disease. This will overwhelm their families and communities unless we take action now."

More information

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has a page on Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCES: Alzheimer's Association, news release, July 21, 2004
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