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Did you know that African-Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than white people? Hispanics are one and half more times as likely to develop the disease as white folks too. The Alzheimer’s Association discovered this reality in a new report on these pretty significant numbers. AARP Bulletin reports:
An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to grow as boomers age. For the special report on race, ethnicity and Alzheimer’s disease, the association convened a panel of experts who analyzed the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States.

The findings are part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual report, “2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” a compilation of national statistics and information on that disease and other types of memory problems.

Although people tend to assume genetic factors explain the fact that African Americans and Hispanics are more likely than whites to have Alzheimer’s disease, Eric Larson, M.D., executive director of the Group Health Research Institute and a member of the expert panel that prepared the report, says there are no known genetic factors that can explain the significant difference in risk of getting the disease for these two groups.
Rather than genetics, it’s an issue of physical health, specifically the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. In fact, about 80%of African Americans and nearly 70% of Hispanics who have cognitive impairment (diagnosed memory problems) also have high blood pressure.