This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, as it relates to those living with Down syndrome. Jennifer Jones, MPH, community engagement senior coordinator, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, chatted about this topic.

JJ: Good afternoon, Ms. Bush. It’s been awhile since you and I have discussed one of our monthly health topics. Last month, you and Erricka talked about Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To refresh our memories, Dr. Annie Cohen stated that over 5 million people are living with this disease in the United States, and approximately 400,000 of those persons live here in Pennsylvania. There is a lot of great research being done to understand the genetic components of that disease. Technology advancements have changed how AD is diagnosed, and there is a lot more to learn. This month, we are going to build on that knowledge base and get a little more specific. Our health focus is how Alzheimer’s disease affects those persons living with Down syndrome.

EB: Thank you for that reminder Jennifer. Last month one of the most fascinating parts of learning more about Alzheimer’s research was understanding how the disease is detected, based on proteins that build up in the brain. I believe they are called amyloids. Dr. Handen once again talks about amyloids in those who have Down syndrome. They may be producing more amyloid due to the extra chromosome copy. Research has shown that the levels of amyloids in the brain are higher, especially those over 40 years old.

JJ: That is correct. Even though I work in research, I am constantly amazed at all the research studies happening here in Pittsburgh. Studies, like the one outlined on this page and talked about by Drs. Handen and Bulova, will help the medical and research community continue to learn more about diseases. Knowing that 75 percent of people over 60 who have Down syndrome also have Alzheimer’s is a high percentage. My hope is that we continue to learn more so in the future we know better how to both prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, in everyone. I also learned about organizations like The Down Syndrome Center of Western PA and The Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh, who have great resources for families. And if anyone knows an adult 25 or older living with Down syndrome who may be interested in a research study, they can call Masha the study recruiter at 412-235-5486.

EB: I agree, I truly hope that these pages are helpful to readers, and that they share it with friends and family. What are we talking about next month?

JJ: Me too! For April we will be talking about hypertension, or high blood pressure, and what we can do to lower our blood pressure especially as we age. If anyone has any questions or concerns, they can email our research and community engagement team at