Homecare Topic: Women and the Cure for Alzheimer’s?

March 23, 2016

In our homecare business, we find that diseases affect genders in different ways. That is very true for Alzheimer’s where the disease hits women harder than it does men. Women have a longer life expectancy which gives them a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s during their lifetime and they also decline faster when diagnosed. Men and women have very different experiences with the disease. Often women with early memory changes declined twice as fast as men and ended up worse off as well.

 

The statistics show that 1 in 6 women will get Alzheimer’s after turning 65 whereas only 1 in 11 men will develop the disease after 65. Researchers are finding a strong correlation that gender plays a role in developing Alzheimer’s. They believe the environment and biology is having a greater impact on women compared to men that put them at greater risk. Alzheimer’s research has tended to be gender blind with more studies done with men even though more women get the disease.

 

One gene called APOe4 that is associated with Alzheimer’s, causes a sticky build-up of plaque in the brain. Inheriting one copy of APOe4 results in a two to four times greater risk for Alzheimer’s, while inheriting two copies raises the risk to nearly 15 times. The higher risk is not shared equally by men and women. Having this gene causes a slightly increased risk in memory problems for men whereas with women having a single copy nearly doubled their risk of brain changes and disease compared to other women.

 

Interestingly, education has a powerful connection to brain health and may lower your risk for getting Alzheimer’s. Learning seems to build the brain up and works that muscle making it harder for the disease to progress. However, women baby boomers have not been as well educated as their male counterparts. Exercise is another factor contributing to Alzheimer’s and women aren’t usually as physically active as men over the course of their lifetime. Other factors affecting women are the loss of estrogen at menopause. Use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause was found to increase the risk for dementia. Even surgery and the use of anesthesia effects women differently and they show decline in memory and thinking. Lastly, pregnancy also plays a huge factor in women. The baby’s and mother’s brains are bombarded with chemicals that protect the baby and reduce stress in the mother. The key to solving these questions is more research and funding towards curing this growing disease.

 

 

 

 

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