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Alzheimer’s Symptoms Progress More Quickly In Women Than Men

Women with Alzheimer’s disease experience faster mental decline than men with the same condition, according to British researchers. This difference in cognitive functioning was apparent even in individuals at the same stage of the disease.

The meta analysis of 15 published studies revealed that men with Alzheimer’s disease consistently performed better than women with the disease across the five cognitive areas examined. The cognitive areas studied were semantic, which includes participants’ understanding of meanings and concepts, nonsemantic, verbal, visuospatial, which includes participants’ perceptions of spatial relationships, and memory. The most significant difference between the performance of men and women was seen in tests that measured semantic or memory ability. The performance gap between the sexes was seen even when researchers controlled for age, education level, and severity of dementia.

Researchers were unsure what caused this discrepancy, but discussed some possible explanations. “There has been some previous, but limited, evidence that females with Alzheimer’s deteriorate faster than males in the earlier stages of the disease. And possible explanations are for a hormonal influence, possibly due to estrogen loss in women or perhaps a greater cognitive reserve in males which provides protection against the disease process,” said Keith Laws a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire in the university’s press release. “But further studies to examine sex differences with the disease are needed to provide greater clarity on these issues.”

Read a press release about this Alzheimer's disease study or review the complete findings titled Greater Cognitive Deterioration In Women Than Men With Alzheimer's Disease: A Meta Analysis.

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