A new study shows that women get dementia faster than men, as in, they tend to decline more rapidly and severely than men. The study looked at women who had slight mental problems and men who had more pronounced problems.
What they found, to their surprise, was that women quickly deteriorated into full-blown dementia much, much faster, while men remained for the large part in the same state, or declined severely slower.
It is a known fact that the disparity between men and women who have Alzheimer’s in the US is pretty high. The numbers amount to two thirds of all Alzheimer’s cases being in women. Up to this point, there has been no relevant study made to determine whether this is caused by something other than age. As you know, women per usual have a higher life expectancy than men. This translated to them being more prone to declining mental health.
The authors of the study say that their research does not shed any light to the gender differences in mental health, but maintain that their conclusion is a step forward in the research leading to a conclusion. Furthermore, their study does not propose any new treatment methods for women that would be different from those prescribed to men.
What the researchers did uncover, Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, the senior author says, is that the trajectory of mental health declining is faster for women than for men. A previous study also shows the same results, yet over a much shorter period of about a year. This current study has extended the time of the experiment to eight years. This automatically makes the study more scientifically relevant.
The Duke University scientists tested 398 women, as well as men aged 70. They performed cognitive tests as a part of a larger Alzheimer’s disease trial. Within the trial the patients have been continuously tested for Alzheimer’s for as many as 8 years.
Women’s results in the tests went down by approximately two points every year in memory and mental acuity tests. Also, women tended to perform increasingly poorly in social situations as their mental health declined: at home, with their family, as well as at work.
Other older studies linked estrogen to a protection from mental health problems, as well as ApoE4, a female gene variant, to higher risk of developing these problems. Both of these theories have been, for the time being, disproven.