Women’s decline into dementia occurred much more quickly than it did for men when approximately 400 people with mild cognitive impairment were observed, according to new research released July 21, 2015.
Co-authors of the new study, Katherine Amy Lin, Wrenn Clinical Research Scholar in Alzheimer’s disease at Duke University Medical Center, and Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, professor of psychiatry at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, shared their findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington.
It was already established that women develop Alzheimer’s more frequently than men, with almost two-thirds of all cases being female. However, the Duke researchers were surprised by just how differently women and men develop dementia.
“Our findings suggest that men and women at risk for Alzheimer’s may be having two very different experiences. Our analyses show that women with mild memory impairments deteriorate at much faster rates than men in both cognitive and functional abilities,” said Lin at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, women over 65 who do not have Alzheimer’s disease have a 1-in-6 chance of developing the disease later in life, while men of the same age only have a 1-in-11 chance of developing the disease.
Mild cognitive impairment is defined as a measurable deduction in the ability to think clearly or remember past events, but not so significant that it hinders daily activities.
The Duke researchers measured the quickness of cognitive decline after individuals began experiencing mild cognitive changes using the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive scale, which is one of the most frequently used tests to measure cognition in clinical trials.
The ADAS-Cog is a test with 11 parts used to measure cognation, with each part ranked on a numbered scale from zero to 70.
When completing the ADAS-Cog testing and adjusting for other factors like genetic predisposition, the researchers found that women’s cognitive abilities declined twice as quickly as men’s in a year span, with a score of 2.3 for women and 1.05 for men.