Fortune AJHS (3) 2013 92-100_Page_1

Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health crisis in the United States as well as a growing health disparity. African Americans suffer disproportionately from Alzheimer’s disease (AD); they are twice as likely to have AD as white Americans. The Alzheimer’s Association refers to AD as a “silent epidemic” in the African-American community due to its increased prevalence, scope, and nature. There is growing evidence that diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and high cholesterol are significant risk factors for AD. As such, it is quite conceivable that African Americans, who suffer disproportionately with these diseases, would be more at risk of having AD. The genetic risk factors reportedly work differently in African Americans than in whites. African Americans tend to be diagnosed later and less reported than their white counterparts, giving them less time for effective use of therapeutics. Moreover, African Americans remain underrepresented in research and clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease studies causing an information gap in the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals in underrepresented populations. African Americans tend to be less knowledgeable about AD than whites and are more likely to believe that dementia is a normal part of aging. Health education strategies are needed to improve prevention, early detection, and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans.