Alzheimer’s disease was initially diagnosed in women during the early 1900s. Until recently, the disorder was thought to affect women more often than men. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic were determined to learn why women seem to be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. They discovered that the number of women affected compared to the number of men may not be as great a difference as they initially believed.
The Mayo Clinic Study
The group began their study by evaluating the records of more than 1,600 people at a brain bank in Florida. All the documentation related to deceased people who had Alzheimer’s disease. The data revealed the age of disease onset, brain images, and disorder duration along with each person’s education and family history.
The team was surprised to find that Alzheimer’s disease affected a similar number of men and women. However, the way the disorder impacts each gender is different in multiple ways. Brain damage began developing in men while they were in their 60s. On the other hand, noticeable issues did not occur in women until they were in their 70s or older.
In men, the disease process attacked the cerebral cortex, which regulates behavior, speech, and motor skills. The scientists also found that Alzheimer’s progressed more quickly in the men, which shortened their life span. In women, the issues were in the limbic center and the hippocampus. Women experienced memory loss. However, the damage caused by the process progressed more slowly in women compared to men.
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Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)
Another group of scientists reported similar findings at the AAIC in 2016. The researchers assessed the case studies of more than 1,000 people whose records were compiled in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) database. After evaluating the information, they found that Alzheimer’s disease was diagnosed correctly 78 percent of the time. In the remaining cases, the people were misdiagnosed.
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Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the abundance of amyloid and tau proteins forming in the brain. The proteins stick to one another and create clumps or masses that tangle and destroy neurons. As the damage occurs, neurons lose the ability to send appropriate signals throughout the affected area, which causes symptoms associated with that specific region of the brain.
However, the researchers found that some of the people were incorrectly diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s. Instead, their cognitive decline was caused by vascular disease processes, Lewy body formations, frontotemporal abnormalities, or multiple disorders.
Men were not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because they displayed symptoms not normally equated with the disease. The symptoms they experienced were thought to be created by other disorders. If men are not diagnosed properly, they cannot receive the appropriate treatments and medications, which might delay the damage caused by the disease.
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