January 26, 2012

Men at a Higher Risk for Memory Loss

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — On the Cosby Show, a popular primetime show in the 80s, there were quite a few episodes in which Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable and his lawyer wife Clair played the memory game. Cliff´s loving wife Clair would ask him questions to jog his memory of certain pinnacle events of their life together. The majority of the time, Cliff would not remember these special moments, and the game ended with Clair upset and Cliff in a headlock. A new study suggests there may possibly be a reason why men are at a higher risk of memory loss than women.

Although women have a much higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia than men, men may have a higher risk of experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), or the stage of mild memory loss that occurs between normal aging and dementia, than women. R.O. (Rosebud) Roberts, MB, ChB, MS, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology and his colleagues performed a study on a group of 1,450 people, ranging in age from 70 to 89 from Olmsted County, Minnesota.

While being interviewed by medical professionals, these participants underwent memory testing every 15 months for an average of three years. The study found that the number of new cases of dementia 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. By the end of the study, 296 people had developed MCI.

Roberts and his team also found that among people who were newly diagnosed with MCI, 12 percent per year were later diagnosed at least once with no MCI, or reverted back to what was considered "cognitively normal." Roberts said the majority of people with MCI, about 88 percent per year, continue to have MCI or progress to dementia.

"Our study suggests that risk factors for mild cognitive impairment should be studied separately in men and women," Roberts was quoted as saying.

"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."

SOURCE: Academy of Neurology, January, 2012