In 300 Participants: Vascular Risk Factors Only Explain Part of Alzheimer Disease Risk for Blacks, Hispanics,

Barriers to health care access and other socioeconomic factors may increase vulnerability in racial/ethnic minorities.

Vascular risk and socioeconomic factors may increase the vulnerability of Hispanic and African American individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

E. Valerie Daniel, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the association of the Vulnerability Index (VI) within and between non-Hispanic White, African American, and Hispanic older adults with and without cognitive impairment and different socioeconomic strata using data from 300 participants in a community-based dementia screening study.

The researchers found that when considering race/ethnicity, the presence of more vascular comorbidities drove greater vulnerability. However, vascular comorbidities played a less prominent role when socioeconomic status was considered, suggesting resources and access to care drive risk. The effects of VI on cognitive performance varied, with the most significant effect observed in the earlier stages of impairment.

“This is a compound problem,” study author James E. Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said in a statement. “There are social and medical determinants, and if you think about one without the other, you’re never going to be able to address the problem.”

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