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Research: Women with Mild Cognitive Impairment Decline Twice as Fast as Men with the Condition

Alzheimer's puzzleWashington, DC, July 23, 2015 ― Women with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have two times faster decline in cognition than men with MCI, according to new research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2015 (AAIC® 2015), which is being held this week in Washington, DC.

In addition, women decline more dramatically than men in cognition, function and brain size after surgery and general anesthesia, according to another study reported at the conference.

MCI involves a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function.  A person with MCI is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Women are at the epicenter of the Alzheimer’s crisis.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report:

  • Almost two-thirds of American seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease are women.
  • Among those aged 71 and older, 16 percent of women have Alzheimer’s and other dementias, compared with 11 percent of men.
  • 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.
  • 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.

“Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, and there is an urgent need to understand if differences in brain structure, disease progression, and biological characteristics contribute to higher prevalence and rates of cognitive decline,” said Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Scientific Officer.

“To intervene and help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, it’s critical to understand the reasons for these differences,” Dr. Carrillo said.  “Results presented at AAIC 2015 begin to shed light on this issue, but much more research is needed.”

Toward this goal, the Alzheimer’s Association is conducting a campaign — the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative — to raise $5 million; the Association plans to award a series of research grants specific to gender-related issues in Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

A recent Alzheimer’s Association-convened think tank on “Gender Vulnerability Related to Alzheimer’s Disease” looked deeply into these issues and plans to develop a manuscript of the meeting proceedings for publication.

The focus was on three main topics that may link gender and vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease: biological mechanisms, hormonal factors and lifestyle factors.

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest gathering of leading researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer’s and other dementias.  As a part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s research program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community.  Scientists leading the advancement of research gather to report and discuss the most current data on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research.  Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Its vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit www.alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

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