Hispanics more likely to develop Alzheimer's

Study also shows higher risk for African-Americans

According to the Alzheimer's Association's 2010 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, Hispanics are about one and one-half times more likely than whites to have Alzheimer's and other dementias. The report also indicates African-Americans are about two times more likely than their white counterparts to have Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Although Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely than whites to have Alzheimer's and other dementias, the report reveals that Hispanics and African-Americans are less likely than whites to have a formal diagnosis of their condition. National data show that Hispanics and African-Americans with Alzheimer's and dementias are less likely than whites to report that a doctor has told them they have a "memory-related disease." Forty-five percent of whites with Alzheimer's and dementias report a diagnosis compared with 34% of Hispanics and 33% of African-Americans with these conditions.

Family members and others may notice early symptoms of possible Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, but there are often long delays between this first recognition of symptoms and the scheduling of a medical evaluation. The resulting delays in diagnosis mean that Hispanics and African-Americans are not getting treatment in the earlier stages of the disease, when the available treatments are more likely to be effective and do not have an opportunity to make legal, financial, and care plans while they are still capable.

There are no known genetic factors that can explain the greater prevalence of Alzheimer's and other dementias in Hispanics and African-Americans than in whites. On the other hand, high blood pressure and diabetes, which are known risk factors for Alzheimer's and other dementias in all groups, are more common in Hispanics and African-Americans than in whites. Socioeconomic factors, such as having a low level of education and low income, are also associated with greater risk for Alzheimer's and other dementias in all groups.

FDA to give guidance on home medical devices

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to ensure that caregivers and patients safely use complex medical devices in the home.

Hemodialysis equipment to treat kidney failure, wound therapy care, intravenous therapy devices, and ventilators are among the medical products that have migrated to the home in recent years. And more hospital patients of all ages are being discharged to continue their medical treatment at home.

"Using complex medical devices at home carries unique challenges," said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Caregivers may lack sufficient training, product instructions may be inadequate or overly technical, and the home environment itself may pose environmental or safety hazards that can affect the product's functioning.

Currently, the FDA does not have a clear regulatory pathway for devices intended for home use. The new home use guidance document that FDA intends to develop will:

• make recommendations for actions manufacturers should take to support premarket approval or clearance of these devices, including device testing with at-home caregivers and patients in a non-clinical setting;

• define circumstances under which the FDA may exercise its authority to require that certain devices cleared for marketing carry a statement in the labeling that the device has not been cleared for use in the home;

• recommend postmarket surveillance to identify and address adverse events that may occur in the home.

The FDA already has collected information on safety concerns related to home hemodialysis and is now collecting similar information on the use of some wound therapy devices.