A new report finds one in six women are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in their lifetime, while the risk for men is one in ten.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) released their findings in the publication 2008 Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts and Figures.
Stroke and dementia are the most widely feared age-related neurological diseases, and are also the only neurological disorders listed in the ten leading causes of disease burden.
The researchers followed 2,794 participants of the Framingham Heart Study for 29 years who were without dementia. They found 400 cases of dementia of all types and 292 cases of AD.
They estimated the lifetime risk of any dementia at more than one in five for women, and one in seven for men.
“The realization that the lifetime risk of stroke or dementia was more than one in three in both sexes, which is higher than the lifetime risk of coronary heart disease in women, is sobering,” said lead author Sudha Seshadri, MD, an associate professor of neurology at BUSM and an investigator of the Framingham Heart Study.
According to the researchers, the greater lifetime expectancy for women translates into a greater lifetime risk of several diseases. Current research suggests exercise is the best preventive measure for AD, surpassing mental challenges and diet.
Alzheimer’s disease, which affects 4.5 million Americans, is differentiated as either early-onset or late-onset. The early-onset form is rare and tends to affect those between the ages of 30-60. Most cases of early-onset are genetic, caused by a mutation of the APP gene.
The late-onset form is much more common – accounts for 90 percent of all cases of Alzheimer’s – and tends to affect those aged 65 and older. With aging baby boomers, the prevalence of late-onset Alzheimer’s is expected to double in the next 25 years as the population ages.
“People should be aware of the risk of a disease at some point in their life. Similarly, such statistics are essential for public health planners to estimate the projected disease burden in a population during its expected lifespan,” adds Seshadri.
Source: Boston University