Study: Poor Kidney Function Linked to Dementia


Study: Poor Kidney Function Linked to Dementia
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Declining kidney function is strongly linked to dementia, according to a 10-year study of older adults.

This has negative implications for Latinos, who are not only at a high risk for Alzheimer’s and related dementias, but also for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

“The kidneys and the brain, both being end organs, are thought to be susceptible to vascular damage due to similar anatomic and hemodynamic features,” according to the researchers.

Learn more about what the study found on the link between poor kidney function and dementia, why Latinos are disproportionately affected by these diseases, and how we can help further the research of Latino chronic disease through clinical trials.

What Did the Study Find on Kidney Function and Dementia?

Researchers from the University College London and Université de Paris published findings from the study in the journal Age and Aging.

They studied the health of over 6,000 older adults over a decade to see if there was a link between declining kidney function and cognitive decline associated with dementia.

Even after adjusting for traditional risk factors like strokes, researchers still found the link between poor kidney health and dementia to be strong.

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“While cardiovascular disease and reduction in life expectancy are recognized adverse outcomes of CKD, it is possible that dementia is also part of the risk associated with CKD,” according to the study.

Researchers noted that the reasoning why these two diseases are linked is still unclear.

This is bad news for Latinos.

Latinos are already at a high risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia, being 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed than white people.

However, Latinos are also at a high risk for developing kidney problems.

“Latinos are 1.3 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to White Americans,” according to the National Kidney Foundation.

Why Do Latinos Experience High Rates of Kidney Disease and Dementia?

Kidney disease and dementia often stem from conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues.

Latinos experience these harmful medical conditions at a higher rate than their peers.

This is due to systemic inequities that may prevent Latinos from being healthy, whether that is lack of access to healthy food or safe spaces for physical activity.

“Latino neighborhoods have 1/3 as many supermarkets as non-Latino ones,” according to a Salud America! research review.

Additionally, Latinos also face many barriers to treatment, like lack of insurance, language barriers, cost, and transportation.

Having access to a healthcare provider who can give culturally tailored and relevant care is also vital, says researcher Dr. Dr. Mirella Díaz-Santos.

“How can we get the treatment, finding a doctor who looks like me and speaks my language and understands what I’m going through without the fear of discrimination, or just being brushed off, or being given an erroneous diagnosis? Then you have to travel long distance for an academic institution,” Díaz-Santos said.

Many Latinos lack access to healthcare and insurance, let alone a healthcare provider who can offer culturally and linguistically relevant care.

More must be done to get Latinos equitable access to healthy options and fair treatment in healthcare.

How Can Clinical Trials Help Latinos Fight Alzheimer’s?

Clinical trials are an important way to for researchers to create ground-breaking treatments.

But Latinos are often underrepresented in these trials, making up less than 10% of those in federal cancer and drug studies.

You can find an Alzheimer’s clinical trial near you in Spanish or English.

In San Antonio, volunteer for:

  • The bilingual Brain Health Registry. When registering for the Brain Health Registry, participants are asked to enter contact information, demographics, health questionnaires, and take online tests of memory and thinking that are similar to computer games.
  • An Alzheimer’s disease clinical trial at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio.
  • The REACH trial; for each visit, volunteers are eligible for $100.
  • The AHEAD trial; for each visit, volunteers are eligible for $50.

Also, Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez’s Salud America! program at UT Health San Antonio is sharing the stories of clinical trial heroes like Emilia Asto-Flores, Elsada Wilson, and Alma Lopez, with the support of Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

We are using these stories to fuel Latino-focused recruitment strategies and systems for clinical trials in cancer treatment and Alzheimer’s disease.

To share your story, or share someone we could contact for a story, email Salud America! Program Coordinator Julia Weis.

“It is vital for Latinos to participate in clinical trials,” Ramirez said. “This kind of research can go on to save the lives of countless people. But in order for that to become a reality, we need to see accurate, equitable representation in clinical trials. One way Latinos can help is by signing up to participate in a clinical trial.”


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