Memory problems or mild cognitive impairment more common in men

Memory problems or mild cognitive impairment more common in men

Mild cognitive impairment, which may include problems with memory or thinking beyond that explained by the normal aging rate, is more common among men than women, say researchers in an article published in the medical journal Neurology, September 7 issue. People with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI can function in everyday activities, but they may have problems with memory, such as remembering people's names, losing the flow of a conversation, and not remembering where they left things.

In this latest study, researchers found that men are 1.5 times more likely to have mild cognitive impairment than women. MCI frequently leads to Alzheimer's disease.

Study author Ronald Petersen, MD, PhD, with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said:

This is the first study conducted among community-dwelling persons to find a higher prevalence of MCI in men. If these results are confirmed in other studies, it may suggest that factors related to gender play a role in the disease. For example, men may experience cognitive decline earlier in life but more gradually, whereas women may transition from normal memory directly to dementia at a later age but more quickly.

Petersen and team interviewed 2,050 people aged between 70 and 89 years, in Olmstead Country, Minnesota, about their memory and their medical history. Their memory and thinking skills were also tested.

They found that:

  • Almost 14% of the individuals they tested and interviewed had mild cognitive impairment
  • Approximately 10% had dementia
  • 76% had normal memory and thinking skills, according to the tests and interviews
  • 19% of the men had mild cognitive impairment
  • 14% of the women had mild cognitive impairment
Petersen said:

Our results, showing combined rates of MCI and dementia at 22% highlight the public health impact these conditions have and the importance of finding treatments for them.

Mild cognitive impairment rates were higher among individuals who were never married, and/or people who had a low level of education, the researchers wrote.

In a Mayo Clinic press release, Peterson is quoted as saying:

The finding that the frequency of mild cognitive impairment is greater in men was unexpected, since the frequency of Alzheimer's disease is actually greater in women. It warrants further study. If we consider the 16% prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in individuals without dementia, then add the 10-11% of individuals who already have dementia or Alzheimer's disease, we're looking at 25 percent or more of the population aged 70 or older who have dementia or are at risk of developing dementia in the near future. With the aging of America, these numbers are staggering and the impact on the health care economy, as well as on individuals and their families, is quite impressive. The need for early diagnosis and therapeutic intervention is increasingly important.

What is dementia? - dementia is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function - the ability to process thought (intelligence). Progressive means the symptoms will gradually get worse. The deterioration is more than might be expected from normal aging and is due to damage or disease. Damage could be due to a stroke, while an example of a dementia-causing-disease might be Alzheimer's.

Dementia is a set of signs and symptoms - dementia is a non-specific syndrome in which affected areas of brain function may be affected, such as memory, language, problem solving and attention. Dementia, unlike Alzheimer's, is not a disease in itself. When dementia appears the higher mental functions of the patient are involved initially. Eventually, in the later stages, the person may not know what day of the week, month or year it is, he may not know where he is, and might not be able to identify the people around him.

Dementia is significantly more common among elderly people. However, it can affect adults of any age.

What is mild cognitive impairment? - this is an intermediate stage between normal cognitive decline that occurs with age, and the more pronounced decline that occurs with dementia. The individual may have problems with memory, language, judgment and thinking beyond what might be expected for their age. Put simply, dementia is a sort of halfway house between normal cognitive decline due to aging and dementia. People with mild cognitive decline have a higher risk subsequently developing dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, The American Academy of Neurology.

"Prevalence of mild cognitive impairment is higher in men"

The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging

R.C. Petersen, PhD, MD, R.O. Roberts, MB ChB, MS, D.S. Knopman, MD, Y.E. Geda, MD, MSc, R.H. Cha, MS, V.S. Pankratz, PhD, B.F. Boeve, MD, E.G. Tangalos, MD, R.J. Ivnik, PhD and W.A. Rocca, MD, MPH

NEUROLOGY 2010;75:889-897

Memory Problems May Be More Common In Men (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice