Alzheimer’s affects women at a disproportionately higher rate than men. Scientists are still trying to uncover the phenomenon of why out of 5 million americans, 64 percent are women.
Women Twice as Likely
Once women pass the threshold of their 60’s, they’re twice as likely to develop alzheimer’s over breast cancer and twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s over men. Unfortunately, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s affects women more dramatically than it does men. Another setback for women is that the disease progresses twice as quickly in women, which decreases their lifespan once they’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The reasons why women are affected dramatically higher than men is still perplexing scientists. Further research is needed to fully understand the disease and why it’s so common amongst senior women.
What Role Does Aging Play?
Age is the biggest factor in developing Alzheimer’s, the older you get the higher the risk increases. Women living longer than men could be an explanation as to why they’re more likely to get Alzheimer’s; men often die from heart conditions in their 50s and 60s.
Aging may play a large role in Alzheimer’s, but it isn’t everything. Other factors have an impact, such as a person’s physical and mental health. Women have a higher chance of developing depression than men, which leads to a higher risk of dementia.
Overall, women tend to exercise less than men – linked to higher rates of Alzheimer’s. Exercise can slow down the development of alzheimer’s and decrease the risk altogether.
Even with all this information scientists still don’t have a clear answer as to why women develop Amheimer’s at higher rates. Genes and hormones might also have something to do with it, but that currently leads to more questions than answers.
If women have a specific gene, called APOE4 they’re risk for developing alzheimer’s can be greater than men who have this gene. During menopause women have hormone fluctuations that could interact with the gene, making their brain more susceptible to alzheimer’s.
At this time women’s estrogen, progesterone, and testerone levels drop, which can have an impact on the brain. Studies found that women who had estrogen supplements before menopause had a decrease in Alzheimer’s development. Although, Alzheimer’s research hasn’t always been focused specifically on women, despite the fact that they make up two-thirds of patients.
Using hormones after women go through menopause, typically have no effect on decreasing Alzheimer’s. When hormones are added during the transition into menopause, Alzheimer’s is less likely to develop.
Hormone therapies can be helpful, but they aren’t the cure all to alzheimer’s. Research still has a long way to go because Alzheimer’s is caused by a combination of factors. Women are at a disadvantage when it comes to developing alzheimer’s and researchers still have a way to go to understand the gendered response to Alzheimer’s.
Body stressors, such as hormones, social, or physical can take a serious toll on at-risk people as they cross into midlife. What you do at midlife really determines your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. There’s no cure … it’s all about prevention.
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We offer a comprehensive activity program that includes both physical and social activities to encourage emotional well-being. Our staff is trained to assist those with depression. If you or a loved one are considering assisted living, contact The Victorian today to learn more about our services or tour our community.