Hispanics Have More Risk Factors for Developing Alzheimer’s Disease Than Other Groups, Research Suggests

Kaisernetwork.org, October 21, 2008

The New York Times on Tuesday examined research that found “many Hispanics may have more risk factors for developing dementia than other groups” and that a “significant number appear to be getting Alzheimer’s earlier” than most U.S. residents, who commonly develop the disease in their 70s or 80s. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 200,000 Hispanics in the U.S. have the condition but the number could increase to 1.3 million by 2050. “This is the tip of the iceberg of a huge public health challenge,” Yanira Cruz, president of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, said, adding, “We really need to do more research in this population to really understand why it is that we’re developing these conditions much earlier.”

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According to the Times, less education also could make this group more vulnerable to risk factors and to dementia because, scientists say, education may increase the plasticity of the brain and its ability to compensate for symptoms. Some research also cites stress related to financial troubles or cultural adjustment as risk factors for dementia. In addition, Hispanics, who are less likely to see doctors because of financial and language barriers, often mistake the symptoms of dementia as a result of aging, according to the Times. {snip}

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