As we look back on another powerful celebration of Black History Month and Heart Health Month, we consider the the enormous impact of Alzheimer’s on the African American community and the critical connections between heart and brain health. We are reflecting on the progress we’ve made and at the same time, we are focusing on the enormous work we have ahead.
Women have played a vital role in bringing the importance of heart health to the public’s attention and on highlighting heart disease’s unique and devastating impact on women. Women advocates and researchers have been able to make clear that certain cardiovascular disease symptoms are unique to women – a critical discovery that has helped save lives and was made possible by the sort of groundbreaking research we have continually supported. Indeed, the Red Dress campaign, led by our partner Woman’s Day Magazine, remains an essential player in promoting women’s heart health on a day-to-day basis.
We also know that African American women are disproportionately affected by both cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Two thirds of the five million seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease are women, and African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's as non-Hispanic white Americans. Similarly, the link between race, cardiovascular diseases and Alzheimer’s risk is compelling. Hypertension, diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease are risk factors for Alzheimer’s, and these chronic conditions are more prevalent in African Americans than other Americans. We believe that health is a universal human right and that the only way to accomplish equality is by first highlighting the struggle that women of color experience when faced with brain and heart health concerns. We are proud to be working with our partner network AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s to highlight the disparate impact of the disease and to encourage more people of color to participate in clinical trials – the pathway to a cure.
Monthly Call to Action
February presents an opportunity to reach out to friends and family to shed light on the issues of women’s heart health and racial inequality in healthcare. We urge you to reflect on these important causes within your personal circles, whether via social media posts, email, or in-person conversation. Please see our suggested content below for ideas on how to support Women Against Alzheimer’s.
Sample Facebook Posts
- “African American women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s Disease: Women make up two-thirds of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and 63 percent of caregivers, while African Americans are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-Hispanic Caucasians. We can’t wait and #WeWontWait to find a cure to AD. http://www.wewontwaitcampaign.org/”
- “African American population has a unique relationship with health-related issues. They are at a greater risk for developing heart disease AND Alzheimer’s than Caucasian Americans, and we don’t know why. If we ever want to change that, we MUST encourage our friends and family of color to participate in clinical trials http://www.wewontwaitcampaign.org/”
- “Did you know: #Alzheimers has a disproportionate impact on African Americans, who are 2 to 3 times more likely than Caucasians to develop #Alz? #BlackHistoryMonth is the perfect time to educate yourself and get engaged. #stopalz”
- “Older African-American women are disproportionately at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. Learn what we can do fix these disparities http://bit.ly/2AGIS8Y”
- “Happy hearts lead to long, happy lives. And remember: what’s good for your heart is also good for your brain! #WeWontWait @WomenAgstAlz”
- #Alzheimers brings leaders from both sides of the aisle together like never before. Heed the words of @vradenburg3 in his recent op-ed and help to #stopalz by supporting the bipartisan CHANGE Act. #CHANGEAlznow https://goo.gl/WQpPwi
- #Alzheimers is a disease like none other. It’s the only top 10 killer w/o a cure or effective treatment. Thankfully, representatives from both sides of the aisle have come together to pursue progress and co-sponsor the CHANGE Act. #CHANGEAlznow
January Update Call – It was a pleasure to share our goals and vision for what is sure to be a busy and exciting year during WA2’s most recent webinar. Our team was joined by Dr. Michael D. Devous, Sr., PhD, Senior Vice President of Imaging Sciences at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company. Dr. Devous remarked on the importance of imaging biomarkers in Alzheimer’s Disease research and offered keen insights into the challenges of developing a tau imaging agent as a diagnostic tool for patients.
January Alzheimer’s Talks – On Jan. 25, WA2 Executive Director, Brooks Kenny, hosted UsAgainstAlzheimer’s January AlzTalks. She was joined by Dr. Richard Isaacson, Founder of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic, and Karen Segal, caregiver and UsAgainstAlzheimer's board member. The conversation was inspiring, and listeners walked away with a powerful sense of solidarity, as well as important tips on how to lead a brain-healthy lifestyle. The official recording will become available to stream on UsAgainstAlzheimer’s website later this month.
CHANGE Act – On February 7th, a bipartisan group of 15 House and Senate leaders stepped forward to present the Concentrating on High Value Alzheimer’s Needs to Get to an End [CHANGE] Act: a bill crafted to help support the millions of families affected by Alzheimer’s. UsAgainstAlzheimer’s has worked closely with the bill's co-sponsors to conceptualize and develop this legislation and UsA2 Co-founder and Chairman, George Vradenburg, recently authored an op-ed on The Hill elaborating on its importance.
Media Hub: Resources We Love
- Having trouble coming up with weeknight meals? Check out PeaceHealth’s first-ever, caregiver-made cookbook. It’s full of helpful nutritional advice and healthful, delicious recipes!
- A must read: In this interview with The Guardian, 61-year-old Wendy Mitchell discusses her extraordinary Alzheimer’s memoir, Somebody I Used to Know
- Scott Williams’ TED talk on the importance of unpaid caregivers is a must watch
- Need a pick-me-up? This heartwarming video has been making the rounds in caregiver communities – a testament to the strength of sisterly love, it’s sure to brighten your day
In the News
- New research suggests that Alzheimer's is not, in fact, a disease of old age. Scientists suspect the loss of estrogen during menopause is a factor that leaves the brain more vulnerable to aging and Alzheimer’s. #AlzTalks participants Karen Segal and Dr. Richard Isaacson were interviewed for an exclusive story with NY1:"We know one thing for sure, we're never curing my mother, but we might have a chance at curing me. I'd rather be driving the bus than chasing the bus," Segal said.
- “Anyone who has helped an ailing loved one knows that the job of a caregiver is not easy. When cognitive decline is part of the mix, the job becomes even more challenging.” Researchers and occupational therapy students at University of Buffalo are exploring an important and overlooked topic: support for family caregivers who are similar in age to their loved ones
- A recent study from Weill Cornell supports the idea that a high-salt diet might be linked to decreased cognitive function. “We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” said Costantino Iadecola, Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine and senior author of the report.
- National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) leads the way in the #metoo movement with the launch of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. The Defense Fund connects those who experience sexual misconduct, assault, harassment, abuse and related retaliation in the workplace or in trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance.
- Last Month, DFA announced the winners and finalists of the Living Well with Dementia Community Photo Contest. The entries to DFA's photo contest deftly showcased the diversity of support for both individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. From Greenwood Senior Center’s Grand-Prize-winning shot of a woman’s artwork and message of hope, to Penn Memory Center’s artfully framed photograph of intergenerational guests participating in a drum circle, winning images were unique and memorable.
- The #DataInsecurity Digest is back. Don’t forget to subscribe and keep up with the latest news and events from National Consumers League (NCL).
- Out and About: The new year has been a time of profound inspiration at The Flawless Foundation. In the past month alone, Flawless has traveled from the Kennedy Forum in Chicago to Tivity Health’s panel on Aging in Washington, D.C. While visiting Chicago, Flawless was moved by the tribute paid to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to “bend towards justice.” For a powerful dose of hope, read the Foundation’s blog on pursuing mental health justice through love, featuring Michael Phelps, Common, Patrick Kennedy, and more from the Kennedy Forum.