Women are almost twice as likely as men to develop dementia, with new research showing that the burden of illness is also far greater for women than men.
Researchers from the University Medical Centre Rotterdam, Netherlands, studied more than 12,000 people and found that one in two women will develop dementia, or Parkinson’s disease, and that half of all women will have a stroke in their lifetime.
About one third of men aged 45 and over are likely to be diagnosed with one of these conditions.
The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, monitored the health of 12,102 people between 1900 and 2016 who were initially under 45 when the study commenced. During the study, 1489 participants were diagnosed with dementia, 263 with some form of Parkinson’s and 1285 had a stroke.
The risk of developing one of the three conditions was 48 per cent for women and 36 per cent for men.
Women at 45 years old had a 25.9 per cent risk of eventually developing dementia, compared with 13.7 per cent for men.
“This large study underscores the enormous impact that neurological illnesses have across society and how women are disproportionately affected, particularly when it comes to dementia,” said director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK Dr Carol Routledge.
Those with the highest risk of developing any of the three conditions typically had higher blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, high cholesterol or Type 2 diabetes when the study commenced.
“These findings strengthen the call for prioritising the focus on preventative interventions at population level which could substantially reduce the burden of common neurological diseases in the ageing population,” said the study authors.
The researchers believe that preventative measures, such as finding a drug to delay the onset of symptoms, could “substantially” reduce the burden of the illnesses.
They say that if dementia, Parkinson’s and stroke could be delayed by one to three years, the risk of developing either of these conditions could be reduced by 20 per cent among 45-year-olds and more than half in those aged 85 and older.
Were you aware that women were more likely than men to develop dementia?