A new study conducted by the Duke University Medical Center has found that women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Out of the five+ (5+) million people currently living with Alzheimer’s in the United States, almost two thirds of then are women.
Not only that, but the research has found that women aged 65 and older have a chance of more than one in six (1 in 6) of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the upcoming years if they haven’t already developed the illness by that time. For comparison, men only have a chance of one in eleven (1 in 11) of developing Alzheimer’s disease under the same circumstances.
On top of everything, the research team also informs that women who find themselves in danger of developing Alzheimer’s, or any other kind of dementia, typically decline much faster than men who find themselves in danger of developing the same illness.
For their study, the experts looked at roughly 400 patients, both men and women. Most of the subjects were in their mid 70s and suffered from mild forms of cognitive impairment, meaning that their memory and thinking skills had declined only slightly, yet noticeably.
These subjects were tracked for up to eight (8) years and the results showed that female patients suffered decline twice as quickly as male patients.
Katherine Amy Lin, lead researcher and member of the Wrenn Clinical Research Scholar in Alzheimer’s disease from Duke University’s Medical Center, gave a statement saying that the results of the study bring into debate the possibility that there are gender-specific risk factors that have yet to be discovered.
These risk factors may be either genetic or environmental, and affect the speed at which cognitive decline occurs. She went on to stress that uncovering what said risk factors are should be one of the main priorities for future research.
Another recent study that looked at older adults concluded that women have a much greater chance than men of experiencing significant decline in cognition and brain function after undergoing surgery and being given general anesthesia. And again, the decline happens much faster for women here as well.
Experts in the medical community generally agree that the research has to now focus on finding out what are the elements that cause gender differences. Such knowledge is essential in understanding why women are more affected by the disease than men.
Once experts gain a better understanding of this, the hope is that they will be able to develop better, more efficient treatments and prevention methods.
Upon reading the findings, Maria Carrillo, chief scientific officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, gave a statement of her own stressing that because “women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s” disease, there is a pressing need to discover whether the gender-specific risk factors are hiding in the brain structure, in the very progression of the disease, or in the biological characteristics.
The Alzheimer’s Association informs that Alzheimer’s disease kills one in three (1 in 3) seniors on a yearly basis.
The study was presented earlier this month, at the International Conference of the Alzheimer’s Association (Washington, D.C.).
Image Source: americannursetoday.com