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Stanford research seeks to learn about Alzheimer's disease in the Latino community

Alzheimer's in the Latino community
Stanford research seeks to learn about Alzheimer's disease in the Latino community

The Stanford Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, has begun its Study on Healthy Aging of the Brain, in which it seeks to include the Latino community, in order to learn more about the impact of diseases such as Alzheimer's, dementia and other age-related disorders, therefore that call to participate.

Dr. Victor Henderson, director of the Stanford Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, told Peninsula 360 Press that the main objective of this study is to provide infrastructure related to diseases like Alzheimer's, not necessarily specifically, like other Age-related disorders that can affect memory and the brain.

Given this, they are looking for volunteers who, with their participation, will help develop resources to increase understanding of these disorders and provide early detection, effective treatment and effective prevention. 

?The overall goal is to provide a rich infrastructure to help researchers in their own research and try to look at disorders like Alzheimer's disease, or Parkinson's disease, for example. Volunteers are required, people willing to come and offer their time. That they are willing to undergo tests related to the brain, and share those results with other researchers?, Henderson highlighted.

The also professor of Epidemiology and Population Health and of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford, pointed out in an interview that this is not a treatment or drug study.

?It is not that type of study, it is more observational. "We will collect a lot of information because we need to find answers, we need cures for disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and we don't have great treatments for some of these problems," he stressed.

While the research accepts candidates from any community, they are currently especially interested in obtaining more data about Latinas. 

?There are a couple of reasons. "One is that people from different communities are affected by diseases like Alzheimer's disease in different ways, and the Latino community is one where there is probably an overrepresentation of people who develop different dementias," Dr. Henderson explained.

And, although the genetic issue is important in these diseases, it is not the only one involved, since according to researchers, there are different factors to which people are exposed, which could contribute to slowing down the process.

?Once effective treatments are found, they would be of particular benefit to people who are now disproportionately burdened by the burden of the disease. So, I think that's another reason to want to get here where we are located in the Bay Area. "It's kind of a natural area that we try to focus on," Henderson said.

The expert knows well that it is not easy to participate in research like this, since many have different things to do in their daily lives and other priorities, however, he has called on older adults from different communities to take an interest in their health. mental and about the value of a program like this.

But what is Alzheimer's disease? 

According to Dr. Victor Henderson, as we age things change in the body in a lot of different ways, such as memory, however, not all of them advance to worrying degrees.

?Not many people in their 70s can run as fast as they did in their 20s or 40s. The same is true for a lot of the body's functions, as well as the brain. But, having said that, doesn't everyone develop serious memory loss as they age? he noted.

In that sense, he pointed out that Alzheimer's disease is not an age-related disorder, unlike memory loss or dementia, since it presents certain microscopic characteristics that produce changes at the brain level and in biochemical processes.

Stanford Medicine specifies that Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die. 

There are different variants of Alzheimer's disease and each has slightly different presenting symptoms. The most common symptoms seen include:

Early symptoms

  • Memory impairment
  • Navigation problems
  • Problems finding words
  • Depression

Later symptoms

  • Impaired thinking and behavior.
  • Confusion
  • Concern
  • Personality and behavior changes.
  • Disturbance of judgment
  • impaired communication
  • Inability to follow instructions.
  • Language impairment
  • Impaired thought processes involving visual and spatial awareness.
  • emotional apathy

However, in Alzheimer's disease, motor function is usually preserved.

What is the importance of detecting Alzheimer's disease? 

Because the cause of the disease is unknown, there are no prevention protocols to follow at this time. And, because the controllable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are unclear, it is not yet possible to reduce the chances of developing the disease; however, exercise, social interaction and intellectual stimulation can help slow the decline. cognitive.

?In terms of progress for Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease, they are the treatments. Now they are focused on stopping the disease rather than curing it. There are some treatments, particularly for Parkinson's, to help with symptoms, but they are not permanent solutions. For Alzheimer's disease they are the new medications, although I still don't think we are very good at them, and that is the reason why we have Centers like Stanford, it is because we need to have better Solutions. "We need to have better ways of treating the disorder, trying to not just slow it down a little, but actually stop it," he said.

?That's why this research is important, but we still don't have the answers.? 

Who can participate?

Henderson told Peninsula 360 Press that, for this research, a wide spectrum of healthy older people has been used, for two reasons: one, it is difficult to compare blood test markers, genetic markers or imaging markers. brain, unless there is a comparison. 

But, a little more important, is the deterioration in memory loss. Given this, he said, it is important to know from those who have mild memory loss to those who have progressed.

?It's important and easier to learn about what might be happening. Not everyone who has mild cognitive impairment will get worse, some do, some don't. What are the factors? What do they predict? Who is going to get worse? And who will be resilient and able to resist? That's what really is important?.

The requirements are: to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lewy body disease or mild cognitive impairment (any age); or be a healthy older adult (70 years or older). 

They also enroll healthy volunteers between 40 and 69 years old when there is a close family history of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or dementia with Lewy bodies.

All of them must be willing to travel to Stanford for 2-3 visits the first year and 1-2 visits in later years. 

Additionally, they must be in reasonably good health with no other neurological disorders affecting the brain.

If you are interested in participating, you can fill out the form clicking here, or you can contact Verónica Ramírez at 650 721 2409 and also at adrcstanford@stanford.edu.

People who wish to participate may have help with their transportation, as well as accommodation for those who come from outside the area.

You may be interested in: Alzheimer's: myths, taboos, and the importance of an early diagnosis

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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