Dementia signs among some U.S. minority groups highlight screening need

Siarhei Yurchanka | stock photo,

Signs of early-stage dementia are more common among some U.S. minority groups, highlighting the need for monitoring and screening among Americans with less access to health care.

About 17% of American Indians or Alaska Natives aged 45 years and older reported worsening memory loss, compared to nearly 10% overall, according to results of a telephone survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Thursday. Hispanic and Latino adults had the second-highest rate at just over 11%.

Drugmakers have heightened focus on potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, but there is concern that screening and testing may exclude minorities at high risk of cognitive decline. Only 2% of patients included in Alzheimer’s trials over the past decade were Black, a Bloomberg News analysis from last April found. People from some minority groups are also less likely to seek medical help when they experience memory loss and other cognitive deficits.

Hispanic, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander populations were less likely to speak with health-care professionals about concerns regarding memory loss or confusion than the U.S. adult population overall, according to the report. Talking to physicians about changes in cognition can help people identify early signs of dementia and establish care plans that allow them to remain healthy for as long as possible, the authors wrote.

A number of drugs are advancing towards the market for treatment of Alzheimer’s, and most are expected to have their greatest impact in the early stages of the disease. In January, Eisai and Biogen received accelerated approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Leqembi, the first drug to show it can slow Alzheimer’s progression.



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