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Monday, November 23, 2015

Women and Dementia

Health After 50

Fast Facts: Women and Dementia

  • Men and women who develop Alzheimer’s disease may have two completely different experiences. Recent studies that have spotlighted women and initial memory complaints point out that their memory complaints may signal early Alzheimer’s—and a descent into dementia that is twice as fast as it is for men. Of the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s currently estimated that 3.4 million are women. According to the Alzheimer’s Association:
  • Women with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a condition that often leads to Alzheimer’s, have two times faster decline in cognition than men with MCI.
  • Women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the rest of their lives as they are to develop breast cancer.
  • Almost two-thirds of American seniors with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
  • At age 65, women without Alzheimer’s have more than a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s during the remainder of their lives, compared with a one in 11 chance for men.
  • Among those aged 71 and older, 16 percent of women have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, compared with 11 percent of men.
  • Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease with no cure, but women are disproportionately affected by it. Why this gender-related gap exists between men and women is an important question that many research groups around the world have now turned their attention to.

Perhaps, some believe, it is a difference in brain structure that leads to Alzheimer’s in women. Granted, women live longer than men—and this may be a reason for increased risk of Alzheimer’s compared with men—but other scientists are investigating biological characteristics and as yet undiscovered gender-specific genetic or environmental risk factors that contribute to the rate and the speed of cognitive decline in women.  

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