Higher Rates of Alzheimer Disease Not Related to Longer Life in Women

  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Early onset Alzheimer disease

A study of women, average age 52, found they were more likely than man, average age 52, to have related to Alzheimer disease (AD). The finding is according to a study published in the June 24, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. 
The women and men were compared in 4 areas of brain health to assess their risk of having AD biomarkers, including the volumes of both gray and white matter in the brain, levels of amyloid-beta plaques, and the rate at which the brain metabolizes glucose, an indication of brain activity. On average, the women had 30% more beta amyloid plaques in the brain, and 22% lower glucose metabolism than the men did. When measuring average gray matter volume, the women had 0.73 cc/cm3 compared with men who had 0.8 cm3, a difference of 11%. For average white matter volume, the women had 0.74 cm3 compared with men who had 0.82 cm3, a difference of 11%. 

“About 2/3 of people living with AD are women, and the general thinking has been it’s because women tend to live longer,” said study author Lisa Mosconi, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY “Our findings suggest that hormonal factors may predict who will have changes in the brain. Our results show changes in brain imaging features or biomarkers in the brain, may be the best predictor of AD related brain changes in women.”

The study involved 85 women and 36 men (n=121) with an average age of 52 who had no cognitive impairment. The men and women had similar scores on thinking and memory tests and measures such as blood pressure and family history of AD. Participants had positron emission tomography (PET) scans to see if they had amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, a biomarker associated with AD. They also had detailed brain magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI).

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