Minorities risk cognitive disease
Research has established that African Americans and other minority groups are more likely to suffer vascular problems, which are associated with the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But primary caregivers may not be adequately identifying warning signs of dementia, according to a University statement released last week.
The problem is the subject of the bulk of the research done by Assistant Nursing Prof. Ishan Williams, who recently won a $40,000 one-year grant for the study, funded by the Alzheimer’s and Related Disease Research Award Fund.
Williams wants to determine whether untreated vascular problems make it more likely for mild cognitive impairment to develop into advanced dementia in African Americans.
Williams aims to study how various factors lead to a failure to identify the early warning signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Such factors include the lack of knowledge among physicians about the cognitive risks associated with vascular problems.
“If we can better understand what vascular risk factors are more strongly associated with mild cognitive impairment of early dementia, we can develop specific strategies to prevent — and protect — some of our most vulnerable populations,” Williams said in the statement.
Should Williams’ hypothesis prove true, primary-care physicians could preemptively test African Americans with vascular problems for early signs of cognitive degeneration.
“[Our study] will boost our ability to understand the critical features that might predict, and ultimately delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” Williams said.