Updated: Nov 15, 2021
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United states, and African Americans are at greatest risk.
Whether Alzheimer’s is more common in African-Americans, research still remains unclear. But what it does suggest is that African American women are at highest risk among minorities. As demographics continue to become more diverse and the elderly population expands rapidly, Alzheimer's disease is emerging as a major public health crisis.
The National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association recently presented a set of revised clinical criteria for the disease. In the revised criteria, Alzheimer’s is recognized as a chronic disease that begins with a pathologic process characterized by deposits of abnormal proteins in the brain in the absence of any detectable cognitive impairment, followed by subtle impairment, and then obvious mild cognitive impairment, with dementia representing only the end stage of the disease.
Many studies suggest that stress is an overwhelming factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease. One study found that the more stressful events a person was subjected to in early life, the more impaired their cognition became in later life. As African American women are subject to more stressful environments and situations, than any other group, this ultimately places them at risk for early cognitive decline.