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Alzheimer’s disease is most common in these US counties, new study finds

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Seniors living in the eastern and southeastern parts of the United States have the largest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research announced on Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Amsterdam.

Researchers analyzed all 3,142 U.S. counties in the first-ever county-level estimate of the most common form of dementia among older Americans.

In addition to the presentation at AAIC, the data were also published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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“It’s important for us to know where the prevalences are going to be highest, so that we know how to direct resources and educational opportunities for people,” said Dr. Percy Griffin.

He is director of scientific engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago, Illinois, and shared his thoughts with Fox News Digital in an interview. 

Older man in Florida

Older Americans in the eastern and southeastern United States have the largest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research. (iStock)

Among all counties with a population of at least 10,000 people age 65 or older, the highest Alzheimer’s rates were found in the following locations, according to the researchers:

  • Miami-Dade County, Florida (16.6%)
  • Baltimore City, Maryland (16.6%)
  • Bronx County, New York (16.6%)
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland (16.1%)
  • Hinds County, Missouri (15.5%)
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana (15.4%)
  • Dougherty County, Georgia (15.3%)
  • Orangeburg County, South Carolina (15.2%)
  • Imperial County, California (15.0%);
  • El Paso County, Texas (15.0%)

Kumar B. Rajan, PhD, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Rush Medical College in Chicago, analyzed data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) and the National Center for Health Statistics (NHCS) to determine the numbers of people with Alzheimer’s in each U.S. county, according to a press release from the Alzheimer’s Association.

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The greater prevalence in those counties correlates to higher shares of Black and Hispanic residents as well as an older average age, the researchers stated.

Older couple with doctor

It is estimated that around 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  (iStock)

One example cited was Bronx County in New York, where 30.1% of the population were African Americans and 46.9% were Hispanic Americans (compared to national averages of 9.4% and 8.8%, respectively). 

As for age, 14% of the people there were 85 and older.

Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older Whites, while older Hispanics have about 1.5 times greater risk, according to data from the Alzheimer’s Association.

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“These populations have historically been underrepresented in clinical trials, so we need to push toward health equity to ensure that they are included,” Griffin told Fox News Digital. 

“Treatments, diagnostic tools and risk reduction strategies should be available for all people, and not just some people from some communities.”

Researchers aim to use this information to better allocate resources to help those living with the disease, per the release.

Older woman with doctor

Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older Whites, while older Hispanics have about 1.5 times greater risk, according to researchers. (iStock)

“Alzheimer’s prevalence estimates can help federal and state public health officials determine the burden on the health care system, and county-level estimates help us better understand and pinpoint areas of high risk and high need — where, for example, culturally-sensitive health support and caregiver training services are needed,” said Matthew Baumgart, the Alzheimer’s Association’s vice president of health policy, in the release.

Miami Florida

Miami-Dade in Florida is the U.S. county with the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s, at 16.6%, according to new research.  (iStock)

“As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease increases, so does the need for a larger workforce that is trained in diagnosing, treating and caring for those living with the disease,” he added.

The county-level data will help raise awareness of the urgency of the Alzheimer’s crisis in specific communities, Griffin echoed. 

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“This will help the association advance public policy at the state and federal level to help people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers,” he told Fox News Digital.

It is estimated that around 6.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. 

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The organization expects that between 2020 and 2025, the biggest increase will be seen in the west and southwest regions of the country.

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