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Banner Health expert talks about impact of Alzheimers on Black Americans

PHOENIX (Feb. 12, 2024) – During Black History Month, Banner Health will be highlighting some of the diseases that affect Black Americans, with the goal of raising awareness. A new article will be released on this topic every Monday. 

Black Americans are twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s, or another related dementia compared to their white counterparts, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention states that Black Americans and Hispanics in the United States will see the largest increases in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2060. It’s also the fourth leading cause of death for older Black Americans.  

Let’s talk about why & how to slow progression  

Dr. Angela Allen with Banner Alzheimer’s Institute said there are a multitude of issues that contribute to Black Americans facing higher incidents of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, which include genetics, the presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions, environmental factors, and the lack of access to resources.  

“African Americans are more likely to have a stroke, to be overweight or obese, have heart disease and are more likely to die from diabetes,” Dr. Allen said. “All of these factors enhance the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”  

While there isn’t a specific prevention for Alzheimer’s itself, Dr. Allen noted that there are ways one can slow the progression of the disease if you have higher risk factors. 

“Find ways in which you can manage your care to stop comorbidities that contribute to Alzheimer’s,” Dr. Allen said. “Exercise the body and the mind; eat a healthier diet, try to change your environment if you can.” 

Detection, early signs, and education 

Dr. Allen said being educated with the proper resources is a key part in early detection to slow the progression of the disease. This could mean asking your doctor for a brain function assessment if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or related dementias, or if there is a feeling or perception that you or a loved one may be suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia.  

“Banner Alzheimer’s and Banner Sun Health Research Institute do free community screenings, too,” Dr. Allen added. “This is a good way to get checked out, and then receive proper treatment if you do have a higher risk level for developing Alzheimer’s.” 

Dr. Allen mentioned there are early signs and symptoms to watch for in yourself or a loved one, including paying attention to behavioral patterns, mood and behavior, and the ability to recollect information as you age. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 55% of Black Americans think that significant loss of brain function abilities or memory is a natural part of aging, rather than a disease. 

Dr. Allen added that it’s important for the Black community to participate in educational studies and clinical trials because they’re often free or covered by insurance, which can help ease financial burdens and detect Alzheimer's sooner.  

“African Americans need to get involved so that we can make sure we’re addressing the concerns within ourselves, and possibility our family members, too,” said Dr. Allen. 

If you would like to learn more about lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, talk to your health care provider or reach out to a medical expert at Banner Health.  

Since its inception in 2006, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute has sought to find effective Alzheimer’s disease prevention therapies without losing another generation, establish a new model of dementia care for patients and family caregivers, and forge new models of collaboration in biomedical research. It has made groundbreaking contributions to the unusually early detection, tracking, diagnosis and study of Alzheimer’s, and aims to find the first effective prevention therapy by 2025. It includes the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, numerous observational studies and clinical trials, comprehensive clinical, family and community service programs, a leading brain imaging research program, and strategic partnerships with public and private research organizations around the world. Learn more at

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