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World Alzheimer's Day: Alzheimer's Disease Is More Common In Women. Expert Explains Why

According to Harvard Medical School, Alzheimer’s disease is almost twice as common in women as compared to men.  
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Published -19 Sep 2022, 19:11 ISTUpdated -21 Sep 2022, 10:39 IST
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alzheimers disease in women

Alzheimer’s disease is a cause of concern globally as it is on a constant rise. The problem is disturbing as it is one of the primary causes of disability and dependency among older people and the seventh largest cause of death. 

We spoke to Dr. Bhushan Joshi, Consultant – Neurologist, Manipal Hospitals, Kharadi-Pune, to understand more about the disease. 

According to Dr. Joshi, almost 10 million new cases of dementia are diagnosed each year, and there are already over 55 million people living with the disease worldwide. 

Many illnesses and injuries that directly or indirectly impact the brain can lead to dementia. The most prevalent type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, may be a factor in 60–70% of cases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer's. Women account for almost 65% of all Alzheimer-related fatalities, and their disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) are around 60%, which is higher as compared to men.

Women Are More Prone To Alzheimer’s Disease Than Men

alzheimer in women

Why are women prone to this disease more than men? Here’s what you need to know:

  • A large number of amyloid plaques: Women are more likely than men to have the disease due to an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease. Plaque buildup happens twice as frequently in women due to their stronger immune systems. It has been seen that various autoimmune illnesses happen in pregnant women as women's immune systems may become stronger when defending a foetus from infections. They produce more amyloid plaques than males, making their immune systems stronger.
  • The difference in sex hormones: Regardless of age, women have more plaque buildup in the body. They have lower levels of FDG glucose metabolism, which shows slower brain function. They also have lower levels of MRI grey and white matter, which might reflect higher degrees of neurodegeneration. Women who have undergone the menopausal stage are more likely to have altered brain biomarkers. Differences in hormones can probably raise the risk of Alzheimer’s in women.
  • Early diagnosis in women is a challenge: The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in women are different from those in men. Men often start experiencing Alzheimer's-related brain problems later in life, while women begin experiencing them during midlife because women experience a quicker rate of brain cell ageing than men. Diagnosis might be a problem because the disease affects every woman differently. A verbal memory test is one of the initial steps in the diagnosis of dementia. However, it has been discovered that women have better verbal and linguistic memory than men. So, women may pass this test easily even when having mild symptoms of Alzheimer's.

Don't miss: What Is Alzheimer's And What Happens When It Claims An Individual

Risk Factors

risk factors alzheimers

Alzheimer's disease is a complicated condition with numerous risk factors. Although it is impossible to completely evade the risk, making changes that contribute to a lifestyle that is healthy for the brain can help in reducing the risk factors. These include:

  • Regular physical exercise for at least 30 minutes
  • A nutritious diet
  • Mental exercises like painting, playing chess or puzzle games
  • Stress reduction and sufficient rest
  • Vascular fitness

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