5 Reasons More Women Have Alzheimer's: Tips To Stay Young and Healthy

Nearly two-thirds of American women have Alzheimer’s disease,and scientists are only beginning to find out the reason behind it. The orthodox wisdom says that women stand on a higher chance of having Alzheimer’s because they live longer than men, on average, and have had fewer educational opportunities – shown to protect individuals against dementia – years ago. However, the growing body of research says there is more to the story.

5 Reasons More Women Have Alzheimer's: Tips To Stay Young and Healthy


New Science

The 2015 studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, D.C. aimed to highlight the greater vulnerabilities in women’s brains. Researchers found that as compared to men, a woman’s memory and thinking skills declined twice as quickly with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

 People with MCI are still able to live independently,but they have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

Also read: Preventing Alzheimer's disease naturally: 4 Simple things you can do

Why women have it more

While the main reason for this significant discrepancy is not yet known, the proposed scientific theories for women being more prone to Alzheimer’s range from differences in health care usage to lifestyle factors,and other biological variations.

Christian Pike, a professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, studied this disparity in detail, examining key genes involved in Alzheimer’s and how their effect differs in both men and women.

“Men and women are affected by Alzheimer’s disease differently, bothregarding disease development and progression,” he said. Understanding the deep-rooted bases of these distinctions should be useful in determining whether scientists need to view prevention and treatment differently based on gender.

Mentioned ahead are five reasons researchers think might contribute to more women having Alzheimer’s in the modern milieu.

1.    Genetics

So far, several genetic studies have offered a striking account for the difference. A group of researchers from Stanford University studied over 8000 people looking for a form of the gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s –ApoE-4. They found that females who carry a copy of that gene were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as those without the gene. On the other hand, men who had the gene were only at a slight risk than men without the gene.

Even though it is still not clear why the gene poses such a radical increase in risk, experts believe it may be how the gene interacts with estrogen.

2.    Heart health

Another study suggests heart health is the reason for more women developing Alzheimer’s. A study from Framingham, Massachusetts says that compared to women, men have a higher risk of dying from heart disease in the middle age. Therefore, those males who live past 65 years may have healthier hearts, protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s.

Heart disease and AD share many other risk factors including cholesterol, diabetes,and obesity.

3.    Menopause

Some researchers claimed that amongst the possible reasons for the higher risk of Caucasian women getting Alzheimer’s, in the ten years after turning 65, was menopause. Previous human and animal studies have reported a link between ApoE4, menopause and cognitive decline.

Also read: 8 important menopause fact every woman should know

According to the Alzheimer’s Association reports menopause and plummeting estrogen levels, which begins at 51 on average, accounts for the difference. However, the researchers still need to study women 10, 15, or even 20 years before their most vulnerable period to see if there are further detectable signals to suggest an increased risk for Alzheimer’s in 15 years.

4.    Decline in brain size

Another finding was presented at the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington DC, which stated that women tend to decline more dramatically than men in cognitive functionality and brain size after undergoing a surgery.

Maria Carrillo, the chief scientific officer at the US Alzheimer’s Association, said in a press release, “Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, and there is an urgent need to understand if differences in brain structure, disease progression, and biological characteristics contribute to higher prevalence and rates of cognitive decline."To help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, it is important to understand the reasons for those differences.

5.    Anaesthesia

Dr. Katie Schenning, an anesthesiologist at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, conducted a study on postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) and found that after receiving general anesthesia, compared to males, females’ brains shrunk more and their cognitive abilities declined more rapidly. Schenning mainly based her analysis on an average of seven years of follow-up data for each patient.

Schenning says that many people do just fine after general anesthesia and the condition is usually short-lived in those who develop POCD. Older adults, however, have a higher risk of long-term POCD following general anesthesia, although the symptoms can be at times mistaken for normal aging.

While doctors are still trying to figure out a way to prevent POCD, minimizing exposure to general anesthesia could be ‘one great idea.’

What women can do: few tips to stay young and healthy

Alzheimer’s is a highly complex disease with many risk factors outside your control such as age and genetics. However, there are few pillars of brain-healthy lifestyle that are within a woman’s control.

The more you strengthen each of the pillars in your daily life, the stronger your brain will be.

⦁    Regular exercise

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation,working out daily can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Exercise can also slow further deterioration in those women who have already started developing cognitive problems.

Regular body movement stimulates the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones – a protection factor against Alzheimer’s.

⦁    Quality sleep

It is common for Alzheimer’s patients to experience insomnia and other sleep problems. New research, however, suggests that disrupted sleep is not just a symptom of Alzheimer’s but a risk factor.

An increasing number of studies have connected the poor sleep patterns to higher levels of beta-amyloid, a sticky brain-clogging protein that interferes with sleep – especially with the deep sleep necessary for memory formation. Other studies focus on the importance of uninterrupted sleep vital for flushing out brain toxins.

⦁    Learn something new

Consider taking up anew hobby, learning a foreign language, or practicing a musical instrument. The greater the challenge and the novelty, the greater the benefit.

⦁    Practice memorization

You can always start with something short, progressing to an activity more encompassing such as the 50 U.S. state capitals. Create patterns and rhymes to strengthen your memory connections.

Conclusion

There are numerous inquiries concerning why females may be more powerless to Alzheimer's than men. The Alzheimer’s Association has recently convened a ‘think tank’ of a dozen researchers to examine how genetic, hormonal and lifestyle differences might make women more vulnerable.

To help answer inquiries concerning sex differences, the Alzheimer's Association has propelled the Women's Alzheimer's Research Initiative to raise a 5 million amount for research grants. According to Maria Carrillo, there is enough information to support an inquiry into the matter.

AUTHOR BIO
Alycia Gordan

Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia
5 Reasons More Women Have Alzheimer's: Tips To Stay Young and Healthy 5 Reasons More Women Have Alzheimer's: Tips To Stay Young and Healthy Reviewed by Chibuzor Aguwa on Friday, February 09, 2018 Rating: 5

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