Alzheimer’s Gender Disparity: Age, Depression and Caregiver Burden

December 14, 2021

There are certain conditions that are known to impact one gender or the other more prominently, and a good example is Alzheimer’s disease. Of over 6 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s dementia, almost a full two-thirds are women, with barely one third men.

At AGA Clinical Trials, Alzheimer’s disease is just one of the new clinical trials we’ve recently introduced, and we’re running several areas of clinical research to learn more about this condition and help improve treatments for patients everywhere. The above information about gender gaps with this disease highlights how important it is for us to receive enrollment from both genders, plus of various age groups and other demographics within both, to ensure the very best and most accurate possible data moving forward. Why are women so much more likely to deal with this condition? This two-part blog series will go over what we know about the answers to this question, plus some of the areas we’re hoping further research will help us determine.

Alzheimer’s gender disparity ageAge and Longevity

While it’s not the only factor at play by any means, one significant variable here is the simple fact that on average, women live longer than men do. Age is a major risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease, and as a result, more women tend to be at this age when they develop the disease. There are some other conditions that can impact an individual’s likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s based on gender as well, with men being more likely to suffer from depression or cardiovascular issues.

However, research has shown that age alone is not enough to account for the overall difference here. Instead, researchers believe that there’s a combination of gender-specific genetic and biological factors at play, which we’ll go over in our subsequent sections.

Depression Risks

Another factor here is depression, which has shown a direct link to forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Women are significantly more likely to develop depression at some point in their lives, and as a result, they’re also more likely to have it impact their mental health down the line – including increasing their risk for developing dementia. This may also have to do with a smaller hippocampus in many women compared to men; this is a brain region important for the foundation of memory in women, but less so in men.

Caregiver Burden

Women also make up about 60% of all family caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients. And while you may not have realized it, some studies have indicated that spousal caregivers themselves can be at higher risk of cognitive impairment or dementia than non-caregivers, so the fact that women are in this role more often contributes in small ways to their higher frequency of Alzheimer’s.

For more on why women are more likely than men to deal with Alzheimer’s disease, or to learn about any of our clinical studies in this or other areas, speak to the pros at AGA Clinical Trials today.


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