Racism And Alzheimer’s Linked As Black People Suffer Both At Higher Rates

Racism And Alzheimer’s Linked As Black People Suffer Both At Higher Rates

In a new chapter in what seems to be a never-ending tale of the health risks of racism, the Associated Press has found that Alzheimer’s risk are higher in Black people as a result.

About 14% of Black people in America over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s, compared to 10% of white people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, this number will likely rise in the coming decades as instances of racial injustice are captured on camera resulting in traumatic images of Black bodily harm being more widely broadcast. In fact, by 2060, cases are expected to increase fourfold among Black Americans, according to the Associated Press.

Though genetics can sometimes play a part, greater risk lies in the common practice of misdiagnosis in the Black community as well as other health concerns for which they are seldom properly treated when it comes to Alzheimer’s and like conditions.

As it stands, there is no cure for the lasting effects of racism on the Black psyche. However, medical professionals have begun to link the trauma experienced by the community to specific bodily responses that help to tell the story. One such response is inflammation caused by heightened levels of stress. Dr. Carl V. Hill, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer of the Alzheimer’s Association names inflammation as one of the main causes of cognitive decline, according to the Associated Press. “In order to achieve health equity — as a step toward complete inclusion — individuals and society must identify and reduce racism and other forms of discrimination,” he said via the association’s website. “We must create a society in which the underserved, disproportionately affected and underrepresented are safe, cared for and valued.”

Systemic inequities also plague the Black community, further contributing to higher risks of health declines similar to Alzheimer’s. Depression, high blood pressure, obesity due to the prevalence of food deserts, and even poverty, itself, are all major concerns for medical professionals and researchers who aim to fully capture the correlation between racist practices and the overall quality of life for Black people.