Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that occurs over time in elderly adults and can cause memory loss and affect thinking ability. This disease has no cure, and people can experience changes to their brain functionality 20 years before any significant signs show. 

Dr. Doris Henry, assistant professor of research neurology at USC Keck School of Medicine, says this disease is affecting the Black community at a higher rate than others. 

“Black adults are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to their White counterparts because Black adults have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Henry said. “The other aspect of this is connected to the social and demographic medical exposure a Black adult might have, which may put them at a disadvantage with their health. The accessibility of care for specific sub-communities is also a factor. The bottom line is we have limited representation of Blacks and African-Americans for research and even less in clinical trials, which leaves our communities understudied.” 

Henry explained what has led to the lack of Black participation: “We understand there is a historical distrust and ongoing distrust of the medical institution and health care institution. Also, dealing with older generations that experienced abuse of power that’s a big influence on why healthcare and healthcare institutions are not trusted. That is why the study I’m involved in is the ‘AHEAD Study,’ which has made an effort to build that bridge to build trust for our patients.” 

Henry recommends that adults in the Black community who fall within the age range – 55 to 80 –  or face one of the potential health risks mentioned above, visit https://www.aheadstudy.org/ for more information and to see whether they are eligible for the trial.

“This clinical trial aims to prevent Alzheimer’s diseases, it aims to do this by testing an investigational treatment on individuals as young as 55 years old and as old as 80. The changes in the brain can happen 20 to 25 years before an individual begins to show signs or symptoms. The goal of this study is to determine if a particular investigations treatment is effective in preventing symptoms of this disease down the road.” 

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