A new study suggests men may be at higher risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) than women. MCI is the stage of mild memory loss that occurs between normal aging and dementia.
Experts were surprised ag the finding as women generally have higher rates of dementia than men.
Mayo Clinic researchers, led by study author Dr. Rosebud Roberts, followed a group of 1,450 people from Olmsted County, Minn. Study participants were between the ages of 70 and 89 and free of dementia at enrollment. Individuals underwent memory testing every 15 months for an average of three years and were also interviewed about their memory by medical professionals.
By the end of the study period, 296 people had developed mild cognitive impairment.
“The risk of MCI in men and women combined was high in this age group of elderly persons. This is disturbing given that people are living longer, and MCI may have a large impact on health care costs if increased efforts at prevention are not used to reduce the risk,” said Roberts.
Researchers discovered the number of new cases of mild cognitive impairment per year was higher in men, at 72 per 1,000 people compared to 57 per 1,000 people in women and 64 per 1,000 people in men and women combined.
MCI with memory loss present was more common at 38 per 1,000 people than MCI where memory loss was not present, which affected 15 per 1,000 people. Those who had less education or were not married also had higher rates of MCI.
“Our study suggests that risk factors for mild cognitive impairment should be studied separately in men and women,” said Roberts.
But the study also found that cognitive impairment can be transitory: 12 percent of people who were newly diagnosed with MCI were later diagnosed with no MCI, or reverted back to what was considered “cognitively normal.”
Roberts said the majority of people with mild cognitive impairment continue to have MCI or progress to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.
The study is published in the online issue of the medical journal Neurology.
Source: American Academy of Neurology