Alzheimer’s Disease Affects More Women Than Men. Here’s Why.

Woman hugging female alzheimer's patient

Dr. Parker and our team are passionate about helping people live their very best lives, not only in our day-to-day work, but also by giving back to our community. One organization we proudly support is Alzheimer’s New Jersey, which provides assistance to patients and families as well as funds research.

Given that Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 600,000 people in New Jersey alone, many Parker Center staff members have family and friends who have been impacted by the disease. Chances are you or someone close to you has been touched by Alzheimer’s too. If so, you know how devastating the disease can be for its sufferers and caregivers alike.

When we come across helpful research or information to help us better understand the disease, we like to pass it along. Recently, we read this Q&A with Alzheimer’s researcher Dr. Richard Isaacson on Goop. Dr. Isaacson is Director of the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet, a guide to lifestyle changes that may help reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

About two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are female, and researchers are getting closer to understanding why

The article addresses many questions and facts about Alzheimer’s, including one of the most common and complex questions: why does Alzheimer’s disease affect more women than men? Here’s what Dr. Isaacson had to say:

“It seems that a person can take many different roads to Alzheimer’s—and women may be more likely to be in the “express lane” whereas men are sitting in traffic.”—Dr. Richard Isaacson

While we used to assume it boiled down to women’s longer life expectancy—women live longer and therefore have more time to develop Alzheimer’s—research has shown the reality is much more complex. Factors including genetics, stress, and chronic sleep deprivation likely play a role, but a very likely culprit that scientists are paying attention to is the effect that hormonal shifts during menopause may have on the brain.

Dr. Isaacson cites one study that showed women who had entered or undergone menopause had significantly lower levels of glucose metabolism in several brain regions (glucose is the brain’s primary fuel) as well as reduced levels of key metabolic enzymes—this was regardless of their specific age.

In sum, while age is a known risk factor, the unique changes that women undergo before and during menopause may predispose them to Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the brain’s natural barriers to progression of the disease. This is not to say women are destined to develop Alzheimer’s; as the article points out later on, healthy lifestyle habits such as good sleep hygiene, eating a healthy diet, and keeping your mind challenged as you age can help bolster brain health.

All in all, the article is full of quality information about Alzheimer’s symptoms, prevention and treatment options from an experienced doctor. We encourage you to take time to read it here.

You can help Alzheimer’s research make more progress

Helping Alzheimer’s researchers better understand the disease will not only lead to better treatment options, but will lead to more effective prevention tactics that may help you avoid it. You can help by donating time or money to Alzheimer’s New Jersey or an Alzheimer’s advocacy organization near your home. By working as a community, we can help patients and caregivers enjoy longer, higher-quality lives.

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are required.