An estimated 36 million people worldwide suffered from dementia in 2010, which includes Alzheimer’s disease. As the world’s population ages, this is expected to rise to 115 million by 2050. Currently, 1 in 5 people over the age of 80 suffer from the condition. Dementia does not happen overnight. Before developing full-blown dementia, people often suffer from mild cognitive impairment, which includes difficulty multitasking, solving problems, or remembering events or conversations.
In a recent study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 1,450 men and women over a three-year period for mild cognitive impairment. They used published guidelines to assess the subjects, and took into account age, education and marital status. The results showed that more men than women suffered from mild cognitive impairment. They also confirmed that married people and those with higher education had fewer cognitive difficulties.
Researchers are uncertain why men fare worse than women in the pre-dementia stage. It may be related to sex-related differences. For example, physical activity helps women live longer, but tends to improve the brain function of men more. Men also tend to suffer from conditions that put them at risk for mild cognitive impairment, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. These conditions are reversible with treatment, so that may indicate why fewer men develop full-blown dementia.
Whatever the reasons, researchers are looking at the results to better understand how to reverse mild cognitive impairment and prevent dementia.
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