A cruel irony exists in the healthcare ecosystem of the United States: Proliferative Neurodegenerative conditions may occur more often in black, indigenous, and people of color patient populations even as they are underdiagnosed by well-meaning but ill-equipped healthcare professionals, says a new report from Rubix, “Understanding Neurodegenerative Cases and how it Affects Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).”
“It is becoming increasingly recognized that health disparities adversely affect health outcomes in BIPOCs,” the report says. Data show that several diseases may be underdiagnosed in BIPOCs despite occurring more frequently in these populations.
Common neurodegenerative conditions, such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease, are examples where clear discrepancies between BIPOCs and their white counterparts arise, the report says.
“It’s not entirely clear whether the observed differences in how distinct races experience these diseases is a result of differences in biology, access to healthcare, or some combination,” says Reginald Swift, Ph. D, founder/CEO at Rubix Life Sciences. “What is clear, however, is we must redress these disparities to improve the health of more people,” Swift adds.
Understanding why BIPOCs may suffer these diseases at higher rates and why their diseases may go undiagnosed is critical for improving our ability to treat all patients and close health inequity gaps appropriately.
For example, research consistently shows that BIPOCs suffer higher rates of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (and other forms of dementia) and Parkinson’s disease compared to whites. According to the Rubix report, they may also experience more severe forms of these diseases.
Research has shown that African Americans with Alzheimer’s disease may have more advanced cognitive dysfunction and be otherwise more functionally impaired when they are diagnosed than whites. Similarly, African Americans with Parkinson’s disease are more disabled with greater disease severity at their time of diagnosis than Caucasians and are then prescribed fewer medications.
That BIPOCs’ symptoms are often more severe than whites at the time of diagnosis suggests that the disease either presents differently across different races or goes undetected longer in BIPOC patients than in white patients. Importantly, mortality rates from dementia are higher in BIPOCs – especially in African American males – than in non-Hispanic whites.
“This and other evidence highlight the unmet need we must effectively address to close the gap in care regarding neurodegenerative disease in BIPOC populations,” Swift says.
To see the complete Rubix report, go to Link