Cropped view of African American senior couple holding hands.

African-Americans are significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease then Whites, according to a new study.

The findings were the result of a meta-analysis by race for Alzheimer’s disease conducted by Emory University researchers, the first effort of its kind. The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that after adjusting for age, gender and education African Americans were 64 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared to Whites. According to their data, 8.6 percent of African Americans develop Alzheimer’s disease, but only 5.5 percent of Whites do.

The study’s lead author, Kyle Steenland, a professor of environmental health and epidemiology at Emory’s Rollin’s School of Public Health, worked with researchers at Emory’s Alzheimer Disease Center. Together, they analyzed data from six U.S. population-based studies to determine the prevalence and incidence by race of the disease.

“It is generally accepted that African-Americans have higher incidence and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, but there has been no quantitative estimate of the higher incidence,” Steenland said in a statement on Emory University’s website. “A 64 percent higher incidence among African-Americans is quite a large difference, in our view. We wanted to come up with an overall estimate of racial differences to help motivate further exploration of possible causes, such as biological, psychological and socioeconomic factors.”

Steenland said he believes that the data could provide important insights as the 65-and-over population in the U.S. continues to rise, and non-White immigration to the country continues.
jhunter@afro.com