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Women's Health Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Jul 7, 2016 - 5:36:25 PM

Cognitive Health Declines Faster for Women than Men

By Staff Editor
Aug 17, 2015 - 3:58:55 PM

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( - Every two out of three Americans with Alzheimer's disease are women. A new study, shared at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in July, found that women with mild cognitive impairment decline faster than men with similar memory impairments, adding to the growing body of research addressing this gender gap in cognitive function and dementia risk.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center studied almost 400 people with mild cognitive impairment who were, on average, in their mid-seventies. Of the 400 participants, 141 were women and 257 were men. The study used data from the Alzheimer 's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) to assess the participants' change in cognitive abilities over the course of four to eight years. ADNI is a larger ongoing project that is examining the rate of change of cognition, function, brain structure and biomarkers in different groups including healthy seniors, as well as those with mild cognitive impairment, mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, and significant memory complaints.

One of the tests used to assess cognitive function was the Alzheimer 's disease Assessment Scale -cognitive subscale (ADAS - Cog) test, which ranges in score from 0 to 70. Researchers found that men had an average rate of decline of 1.05 points per year and women had an average rate of decline of 2.3 points per year, more than double that of men. Individuals of both genders with the ApoE4 gene, which marks risk for Alzheimer's, had a faster rate of decline than those without the gene. Even after controlling for extraneous variables such as education and age, the gender effect on ADAS-Cog results was significant.

The women's cognitive abilities in day-to-day life also declined more rapidly than the men's, affecting their performance at home and work, as well as with family members and friends. Although men and women differ in many biological attributes including hormones, childbearing and chromosomes, researchers have yet to find the cause of this difference in decline. Further research is needed to identify why the gender gap exists in faster cognitive decline.

While Alzheimer's disease cannot be cured today, there are many lifestyle choices one can make to promote brain health and slow the progression of cognitive decline. These methods are incorporated in the Cognitive Therapeutics MethodTM which focuses on cognitive stimulation through fun yet challenging activities combined with healthy eating, physical exercise and mental wellbeing. Learn more about how you can be proactive about your brain health at


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