Alzheimer's disease affects some six million Americans and, for most, it's those senior moments that become too frequent that lead to a diagnosis. A new study is testing if intervening before symptoms show up could prevent memory loss and researchers are making a concerted effort to study African Americans.
Black adults are twice as likely as white adults to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's thanks to higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and also the stress from systemic racism shown to contribute to cognitive decline later in life. Yet, African Americans are less likely to even be diagnosed.
"A lot of individuals will go on to have Alzheimer's without having a chance to prevent it," said Dr. Doris Molina-Henry of the University of California Alzheimer's Therapeutic Research Institute, who's part of the AHEAD study.
She says research has now revealed early intervention is possible with changes in the brain showing up as early as 20 years before patients start demonstrating symptoms.
She says as part of the AHEAD study they'll look at how people from different backgrounds can respond differently to medications depending on genetics.
"This gives us a chance to make sure they're effective for everyone, all socio-economic backgrounds."
The study is looking for participants as young as 55 years old without a previous diagnosis. You'll fill out an online questionnaire and get a blood test if you qualify. Even if you don't qualify, you get peace of mind that you're not high risk.