Alzheimer’s appears to have a worse effect on women than men, review suggests

Published 22 March 2016

Alzheimer’s disease appears to have a worse effect on women than men, even at the same stage of the disease, according to a research review from academics at the University of Hertfordshire.

The review was published today (Tuesday 22 March 2016) in the World Journal of Psychiatry.

The detailed review of evidence found that women’s memory and thinking functions appear to be more affected by the disease, even in aspects where women normally perform better, such as in verbal and language skills. These differences do not appear to be due to any differences in age, education or severity of the disease, indicating that gender may play a role in how Alzheimer’s disease affects thinking and learning abilities.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'We already know that two thirds of people living with dementia are women. This could be in part due to the fact that women live longer, but it also appears that women are at a higher risk of developing dementia for reasons that we don’t yet know. This review pulls together much of the existing evidence to give us a clearer idea about the impact that Alzheimer’s disease has, particularly for women.

'The authors of the review have some interesting theories about why women may be affected by Alzheimer’s more than men – including genetics and hormones. These need to be explored in greater depth so we can understand if there are ways we can address the particular needs and experiences of women with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. However, it’s key to remember that, regardless of gender, no two people with dementia are the same and will experience different signs and symptoms. Anyone who is worried about dementia can find information and help on the Alzheimer’s Society’s website.'

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