Conditions

Why Alzheimer's Hits Women Harder Than Men

Alzheimer's
Image Nacho Doce/Reuters

Alzheimer's disease hits women harder than men, even when both are at the same stage of the disease.

Researchers found that women with Alzheimer's disease consistently scored worse than men across the five cognitive areas they studied, particularly in verbal skills, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

The latest findings are important because it goes against the general profile for the healthy population where women have a distinct advantage.

Lead researcher Professor Keith Laws of the University of Hertfordshire conducted a comprehensive review of neurocognitive data from 15 previous studies and found "a consistent male advantage on verbal and visuospatial tasks and tests of episodic and semantic memory," researchers wrote.

Episodic memory is an individual's ability to recall and remember specific events in their personal past while semantic memory is factual knowledge that a person acquires without any personal feeling or history attached.

"Unlike mental decline associated with normal aging, something about Alzheimer's specifically disadvantages women," Laws said in a statement.

Researchers say that further analysis of the results from the study showed that age, education level and dementia severity cannot explain the advantage that men with the disease have over women.

However, they suggest that hormones might be a possible explanation, explaining that postmenopausal women have a loss of estrogen. 

They also posit that in men may have a "greater cognitive reserve" that protects them against the disease.

Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, has no cure and it worsens as it progresses, affecting memory, thinking, behavior, emotion and eventually leads to death.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that around 5.1 Americans suffer from mind-robbing disease, predicts that by 2050, the number of patients affected with the mental disease will double.

Loading...