It is no surprise that more women suffer from Alzheimer’s than men. Many women suffer from chronic menopausal insomnia and chronic lacks of sleep and over the counter remedies for this have both been cited as possible causes for Alzheimer’s. Many researchers say that women are more susceptible to the disease because they face more risk factors than men. Alzheimer’s disease risk is a complex puzzle. Understanding the differences of the sexes is one way that could help dementia researchers understand its causes.
Here are a few notable differences between women and men:
- Age is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Initially, researchers believed that women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s because they live longer than men. Many research studies suggest that it may be related to heart health. Because men are more likely to die as compared to women from heart disease in middle age, those men who live past 65 may have healthier hearts which may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s.
- Researchers are reporting that women who carry the APOE-E4 gene, which increases the risk for Alzheimer’s, are more likely to develop the disease than men who have the same gene. More than one in seven people carry a copy of the APOE-E4 gene.
- Brain scans tell us that the rate at which brain cells are dying in the brain is faster in women than in men.
- Women have a higher caregiver burden than men. Women make up about 60% of all family caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients. Women caregivers also have a two-fold higher caregiver burden than male caregivers and are more likely to leave their job to care for a family member.
- Women have twice the risk of developing depression compared to men. Depression is linked to higher Alzheimer’ risk and women are two-fold more likely to have depression than men. Additionally, depression is associated with a smaller hippocampus, a brain region important for memory formation, in women. A history of depression is also associated with faster shrinkage of the hippocampus in women but not in men.
Reported by Dr. Himani