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Celebrating Black Americans’ contributions to Alzheimer’s research

Contributed by Christian Salazar, PhD

Source: National Institute on Aging

Black Americans are more likely than White Americans to be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. This may be of no surprise considering that some of the same risk factors of heart disease that disproportionately affect African Americans in midlife- obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension- can also impact brain health later in life. Black Americans can therefore benefit from participating in clinical trials like the AHEAD 3/45 study, which aims to test whether an investigational treatment can slow or stop the earliest brain changes due to Alzheimer’s disease in people with a higher risk of developing the disease later in life.

The urgency for more Black Americans to enroll in trials like AHEAD 3/45 is high because they are severely underrepresented in research, due in part to a history of mistreatment by the US healthcare system. While more participation is indeed needed and warranted, it’s also important to recognize that some already do participate in research, and many others are willing to engage in trials. That is why it is essential during Black History Month that we take time to not only celebrate Black culture but also the immeasurable contributions of Black Americans in Alzheimer’s research thus far.