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Alzheimer's 'Epidemic' Hitting Minorities Hardest
Date:3/9/2010

Blacks, Hispanics at much higher risk for the illness, which carries huge price tag, report finds,,

TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, and blacks and Hispanics are at highest risk of developing the disease, a new report finds.

The report, 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, from the Alzheimer's Association, finds that black Americans are about two times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than whites, and Hispanics face about 1.5 times the risk.

"Alzheimer's is continuing to be on the rise," said Maria Carrillo, the association's senior director of medical and scientific relations. "So many people are affected by it across the country, but we are rallying to highlight the disparities that exist in populations," she said.

Much of the increase in Alzheimer's is because of increasing high blood pressure and diabetes, which increase the odds of developing Alzheimer's in all populations.

"African-Americans and Hispanics are particularly vulnerable, because the proportion of these two risk factors is higher even still," Carrillo said. "We can actually do something about this increased risk with better management of the conditions."

This year, 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer's will be diagnosed, with a greater number of new cases expected in the years to come, the report found. By 2050, the report estimates that almost a million new cases of Alzheimer's will be diagnosed annually.

In 2006, Alzheimer's was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death among those 65 and older.

From 2000 to 2006, death rates declined for most major diseases, including heart disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, stroke and HIV/AIDS. However, deaths from Alzheimer's rose more than 46 percent during that time period, according to the report.

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