Cancer and heart attack both top the list of health concerns for most Americans, but Alzheimer’s Disease, the sixth leading cause of death, is a disease that ought to be on American’s radar.
It is difficult to diagnose, but research on a new blood test shows promise for those suffering from the memory-diminishing disease.
For Juanita Renteria remembering her love of sewing has become harder to remember these days. Alzheimer’s Disease is stealing her memory, and will eventually claim the 83 year-old’s life.
"I really don't worry about it. It happens. We all have to die of something" she says.
Her daughter, Sarah Canales, considers her family to be lucky because the progression of her mother’s disease, since they first learned about it four years ago, has been slow.
"I cried, just thinking about it. It's emotional. She's always been my rock. She's been there for me. And now it's my turn to be there for her. I said mom, I don't think I'm taking you home. I think maybe you should come live with us. And she said okay," said Canales.
Dr. Sid O’Bryant, a Neuropsychologist notes that Alzheimer’s is a huge public health issue.
The 2012 Journal of The Alzheimer’s Association reports 5.4 million Americans have the disease, and millions more will get it.
While Whites constitute the majority of Alzheimer’s patients, African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk for developing it.
"It's the largest ethnic group in the U.S., and there's almost no literature. There's and it's a major problem," says Dr. O’Bryant.
It is in Hispanic-rich Texas where Dr. Sid O’Bryant at U.N.T. Health Science Center came to further his research into the disease.
According to Dr. O’Byrant, "There's plenty of reasoning to suggest the disease may impact Hispanics differently."
U.N.T.’s work on a blood test that could tell doctors sooner which groups are at risk.
"We're going to let multiple things in the blood tells us whether someone has Alzheimer's Disease, and as a result, we have a blood test that yields 90% accuracy."
Sarah Canales does worry that the disease could be passed on to her from her mother. When asked if she could be tested to know she replied, "There is a worry and there is a test they can do. But I would not take it."
Canales knows Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, prevented, or even slowed. She also knows the memories she makes today will fade, but hopes the heart does not forget.