Research shows black Americans at greater risk for Alzheimer's

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The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or related dementia could be as much as 100% greater among blacks than whites in the United States, according to recent research.

Studies indicate that black Americans are at increased risk of vascular disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. According to the Alzheimer's Association, studies also show that people with a history of either high blood pressure or high cholesterol are twice as likely to succumb to Alzheimer's disease.

Although statistics for black Americans with Alzheimer's disease are spotty, the disease could be anywhere from 14% to 100% more likely to inflict black Americans than whites, said Stephanie Johnson, a research associate at Duke University Medical Center's Bryan Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. In addition, she said an estimated 44% of first-degree relatives of black Alzheimer's patients are at risk for developing the disease.

Previous studies from the Alzheimer's Association show that 65% of black Medicare beneficiaries have hypertension, compared with only half of white beneficiaries. Blacks also have a 60% higher risk for type 2 diabetes than whites do.