Thursday, September 04, 2014

Are women more susceptible to Alzheimer's, even allowing for longer life spans?

On Thursday, September 4, 2014, the Washington Post carries a story by Fredrick Kunkle examining “Why do more women get Alzheimer’s?” The link is here.
The rather common sense answer would be that women live longer than men.  But research shows that women may be more susceptible to a particular gene, APOe4, and, particularly when having two copies of it (not possible for men) might be more likely to develop it at a particular age. 
My own anecdotal observation, however, seems to be that longer lifespans are the main reason.  An Emeritus facility told me a few years ago that its Alzheimer’s wing was 70% female.
My own mother had significant dementia by age 94.  Although examination showed some plaques, I think most of her dementia was vascular in nature, related to congestive heart failure and small strokes.

About a year before her passing, a neurologist had given her an exam, in which she answered 18 out of 27 questions.  She could not remember President Obama’s name, but could remember Bush.
High profile men have developed Alzheimer’s. Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with it in 1994, and Maria Shriver made an HBO series about it in her dad, Sargent Shriver, reviewed here May 10, 2009 on the TV blog.  

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