If You’re Black, Alzheimer’s Blood Tests Won’t Work As Well

New research into efforts to diagnose Alzheimer's using blood tests shows they aren't as accurate for African Americans, with a higher risk of misdiagnosis and thus incorrect treatments. Meanwhile, a separate study suggests some racial and ethnic groups should be screened earlier for diabetes.

St. Louis Public Radio: Alzheimer’s Blood Tests Perform Worse In Black Patients Several blood tests used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease are less accurate for African Americans than white patients, according to research from Washington University. The gold standard for Alzheimer’s diagnosis typically involves brain imaging and spinal fluid testing, but in recent years, biotech companies have developed an array of cheaper, less invasive blood tests to detect early signs of the disease. The tests measure concentrations of specific proteins that form sticky plaques and tangles in the brain, causing the memory-robbing disease. But when Washington University researchers tested the accuracy of leading Alzheimer’s blood tests, they found three out of four performed differently depending on the patient’s race. Black patients were more likely to be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, putting them at risk of receiving the wrong medical treatment. (Farzan, 5/10)
Stat: Study: Certain Racial, Ethnic Groups Should Be Screened Earlier For DiabetesWidely used physician guidelines that ignore patients’ race and ethnicity could be doing more harm than good when it comes to catching diabetes in people of color. New research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday, suggests that people from certain racial and ethnic groups should be screened for diabetes at lower body mass index than non-Hispanic white people — a recommendation that contradicts recent guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force. (Cueto, 5/9)