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Study: Black, Hispanic people in U.S. at high risk for earlier cognitive decline

Black and Hispanic people in the United States are at higher risk for cognitive decline, and at a younger age, a new study suggests. Photo by Joshua Woroniecki/Pixabay
Black and Hispanic people in the United States are at higher risk for cognitive decline, and at a younger age, a new study suggests. Photo by Joshua Woroniecki/Pixabay

June 23 (UPI) -- Racial and ethnic minorities in the United States are more vulnerable to memory loss earlier in life than White people, a study published Wednesday by the journal BMC Public Health found.

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Just over 12% of Black people age 45 years and older reported experiencing cognitive decline compared to 11% of White people and 10% of Hispanic people, the data showed.

However, Black and Hispanic people who reported cognitive decline were more likely to be younger, age 45 to 54, compared with White people, most of whom were 65 or over, the researchers said.

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In addition, Black and Hispanic people with cognitive decline were likely to report functioning difficulties, such as struggling to complete household chores, according to the researchers.

"It is concerning that we found Black and Hispanic groups self-report cognitive symptoms at an earlier age," study author Sangeeta Gupta said in a press release.

The concern is amplified "considering the projected rise in minority populations in the United States by 2060," said Gupta, a professor of public and allied health sciences at Delaware State University in Dover.

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By that year, the Black population in the United States is expected to increase by 172%, while the Hispanic population is expected to nearly quadruple, she said.

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One in nine adults in the United States suffers some form of cognitive decline, including memory loss, with Alzheimer's disease being the most severe form, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the new analysis of nearly 180,000 U.S. adults age 45 and older, more than 19,000, or 11%, self-reported symptoms of cognitive decline such as memory loss, the data showed.

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Fewer than half of Black or Hispanic people with cognitive decline in the study population, about 45% in each group, had discussed their issues with a healthcare provider.

Nearly 80% of participants who identified as Black and reported cognitive decline symptoms had at least one chronic condition, including diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the researchers.

For White and Hispanic groups, this figure was 64%.

"As we see more younger Black and Hispanic individuals developing cognitive decline symptoms, this may mean we have higher numbers in those groups not only struggling to be independent but also possibly progressing towards Alzheimer's disease and related dementia," Gupta said.

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