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Alzheimer's and Dementia: Why It's More Common in Women than Men

Oct 31, 2018

Senior Health

Alzheimer's and Dementia: Why It's More Common in Women than Men

Many studies have indicated that women are more frequently affected by Alzheimer's and dementia than men. While the cause for this discrepancy isn't yet identified, suggested theories range from variations in health care usage and lifestyle aspects to life expectancy and other biological differences.

An Overview of Alzheimer's and Dementia in Women

  • Out of over 5.5 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, almost two-thirds are women. Also, 60 percent of women caregivers have Alzheimer's disease.

  • According to some research, women who have dementia see their mental abilities deteriorate more considerably than men at a similar stage of the disease.

  • At 65 years of age, women have a 1 in 6 chance risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared to a 1 in 11 chance for men.

Study Gap for Women with Dementia

Although researchers previously attributed the frequency of Alzheimer's and dementia disorders in women to longevity, scientists are on the lookout for other factors that may be responsible for the disease. Future studies to learn why these gender variations exist could help in developing and customizing treatments for both the genders with the condition. Some other factors that are currently being researched include:

Genetic Factors

Genetic studies by some scientists at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology are trying to shed some light on why the difference exists. They are studying a kind of a gene that raises the risk of Alzheimer's. They observed that women, bearing a copy of that specific gene variant were two times as likely to acquire Alzheimer's as women lacking the gene. Men who possessed the gene had only a marginally increased risk than men without the gene. It is not evident why the gene creates such a severe threat.

Heart Health

Another study by researchers at the University of Southern California proposes that higher risk of developing dementia in women may be linked to heart health as men generally have a greater tendency to experience fatal heart illness in middle age, and those who live past 65 are likely to possess healthier hearts which may shield the brain from Alzheimer's.

Scientists have a lot to decipher when it comes to global research on Alzheimer's in women.

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