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Alzheimer’s Disease In Women

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects both men and women, but there are some differences in how it affects women.

Are Women More Susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease, with about two-thirds of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease being women. Women are also more likely to experience and report memory complaints, according to the Alzheimer’s Association (Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures). There are 5.1 million people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s in the United States. 3.2 million of them are women. In addition, a woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6 (compared to 1 in 11 for men).

Women may also have different symptoms than men in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. While memory loss is a common symptom for both men and women, women may experience more difficulty with language and communication. Women may also have more trouble with social interactions and decision-making.

Why Are Women More Susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease?

There are several reasons why women are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

Women may also have different symptoms than men in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. While memory loss is a common symptom for both men and women, women may experience more difficulty with language and communication. Women may also have more trouble with social interactions and decision-making.

Another possible factor is the role of hormones in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Estrogen, a hormone that is involved in the reproductive system, may play a protective role in the brain. Estrogen has been shown to have neuroprotective effects, including reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, which are factors that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. After menopause, women experience a decline in estrogen levels, which may increase their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Other factors that may contribute to the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women include differences in genetics, lifestyle factors, and social and environmental factors. For example, women may be more likely to experience chronic stress, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Women may also have different patterns of brain aging compared to men, which may make them more susceptible to the disease.

Overall, while the exact reasons for the increased susceptibility of women to Alzheimer’s disease are not fully understood, it is clear that gender plays a significant role in the development of the disease. More research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanisms behind this gender difference and to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies that take into account the unique needs of women.

It is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease can affect everyone differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. However, early detection and treatment can help individuals manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and maintain their quality of life for as long as possible. Working closely with a healthcare professional experienced in treating Alzheimer’s disease can help individuals develop an appropriate treatment plan that takes into account any specific needs or concerns they may have.

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Brain Health in Women

Based on these data, brain health is a critical concern for every woman. A cognitive evaluation work up can help patients and their families understand the extent of cognitive decline.

It is not yet fully understand why there is a sex difference. Some contributing factors may include:

In addition, shorter length of a woman’s productive years is thought to be correlated with onset of cognitive decline.

Hormone Evaluation

It is not a surprise that as women reach menopause cognitive and mood changes are among the most common complaints due to changes in estrogen and other hormone levels. Seeking a hormonal evaluation can provide insight into individual hormone levels.

Some research suggests that levels may be adjusted through hormone supplementation. While there is some debate, estrogen supplementation may lower the risk of dementia if taken at menopause for a short period of time before changes in brain cells affecting memory and thinking occur.

Because of the delicate nature of hormone therapy, women should always consult their healthcare team prior to beginning any treatment.

Reducing Risk Factors

Understanding the disproportionate impact that Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have in women, it is important to be proactive about maintaining and improving brain health.

A few ways to reduce one’s risk are listed below.

  • Exercise: Studies show that aerobic exercise for 30 minutes three to four days a week improves memory, brain function and physical fitness.
  • Healthy dietary practices: A Mediterranean or MIND diet rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, whole grains and fish offers many heart-healthy and brain-healthy benefits.
  • Heart healthy behaviors: Control of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars and smoking cessation can offer additional benefits for brain health and cognitive vitality.
  • Avoiding head injury: Wearing a seat belt, bicycle helmet and avoiding falls that result in head injury is recommended.
  • Enhancing mental activities: Reading, writing, learning a new language and other novel activities that stimulate the mind help to enhance cognitive agility improve functioning.
  • Socializing: People who engage in regular social events and practices have better and more sustained cognitive functioning with age than those individuals who are more socially isolated.
  • Sleep: Research is showing that sleep is an important and often neglected aspect of health. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is thought to help minimize brain amyloid build up associated with Alzheimer’s dementia.
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We are a highly specialized team of medical professionals with extensive neurological and cranial disorder knowledge, expertise and writing experience.
Last updated: March 24, 2023