Although women overall have higher rates of dementia, older men may be at… (Michael Prince / Corbis )
A study suggests that older men may be more vulnerable to developing mild cognitive impairment and memory loss compared with women.
Researchers studied a group of 1,450 men and women age 70 to 89 who, at the start of the study, had no signs of cognitive problems. They underwent neurological evaluations at the beginning of the study and at 15-month intervals after that for an average 3.4 years. By the end of the study, 296 people had developed mild cognitive impairment.
The condition increased with age and was seen more among men than women, except for those 85 to 89 years of age. Those with higher education levels or who were married had lower frequency of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment may be a precursor to dementia. New cases of dementia were found more among men, about 72 versus 57 cases per 1,000 people, respectively.
Having mild cognitive impairment with memory loss was more common compared with not having memory loss. But among those who had the condition, about 12% a year were diagnosed at least one time with having no sign of mild cognitive impairment.
Lead author R.O. Roberts of the Mayo Clinic said in a news release that the results, released online Wednesday in the journal Neurology, were surprising, given that women overall have higher rates of dementia compared with men. More study of the risk factors for men and women for the condition are warranted, he added.