Memory Problems May Be Linked to Cognitive Disorders in Women Later in Life
A new study published in the journal Neurology found that older women who complained of memory problems were at greater risk of cognitive impairment later in life.
The researchers included 1,107 women who were 65 and older and who did not have dementia when the study started. They evaluated the participants’ memory by asking a single question over 18 years. The question was, “Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?” They said “yes” or “no”.
At baseline, eight percent of the women said they had memory problems. The researchers found that women who had memory problems when the study began had a 70 percent greater risk of a memory or thinking problem disorder nearly 20 years afterwards, compared to women with no reported memory problems when the study started.
Further, they found that women with memory problems 10 years before the end of the study were at 90 percent greater risk for diagnosis with cognitive impairment, compared to those without memory problems 10 years before the study’s end. And women with memory problems four years before the study’s end had three times the risk of a cognitive impairment diagnosis.
The study only involved European-American women, so the results may not be applicable to other groups, including men, or women of other racial and ethnic groups. The researchers also only evaluated for diagnosis with a cognitive impairment at the end of the study; they do not know if the participants met the diagnostic criteria prior to the end of the study.
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