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Men are more often affected by memory loss
(07.09.2010) Alzheimer's and dementia are the most extreme forms of memory problems, which are becoming increasingly common in old age. However, slight memory impairments increase with age. Now American researchers from the “Mayo Clinic - Alzheimer's Disease Research Center” in Rochester have found that the mental performance of men and women declines to different degrees in old age. Men are therefore far more likely to experience mild complaints than women.
As part of their study, the researchers examined the mental performance of men and women between the ages of 70 and 89, with the approximately 2,000 senior citizens not only answering questions about their own health, but also undergoing various brain teasers and memory tests. The researchers have now published the result in the current issue of the journal “Neurology”. According to this, men on average have to struggle with mild memory impairment more often than women, whereby the memory problems can serve as an indication of a possible later Alzheimer's or dementia disease. From the point of view of the study director Ronald Petersen, such tests are extremely important for the early detection of later mental complaints.
In the study, 19 percent of the male test subjects and 14 percent of the women had slight mental impairments, which can be derived from a clear gender-specific connection. From the researchers' perspective, however, it is strange that the proportion of women with mild memory problems is lower. Because the mild mental complaints can later lead to Alzheimer's or dementia, although the proportion of women affected here is decidedly higher than that of men. Petersen and his team assume that there are also gender-specific differences in the transition from mild memory loss to Alzheimer's or dementia. The assumption: in women, a small impairment of mental performance quickly leads to a serious impairment of cognitive abilities than in men. 76 percent of the seniors were classified as mentally healthy as part of the study, and about 200 of the 2,000 seniors examined had dementia before the study.
Another result of the study was that not all strata of the population are equally affected by the restrictions. In this way, the researchers were able to establish a clear connection with the level of education and the family situation of the respondents. Those who have never been married or who have had poorer education suffer from the deterioration of their mental performance far more frequently. According to Ronald Petersen, however, further examinations are necessary to confirm the previous results and possibly to develop new therapeutic options and diagnostic methods. Due to the increasing number of illnesses, there is a considerable need for action. Because "if you add up the already demented people and those with the slight mental difficulties, a total of about 24 percent of people over 70 show a decline in mental performance," said the expert. (sb)
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