Published on: July 24, 2016
by Joshua D. Grill & Reisa Sperling for MariaShriver.com:
Alzheimer’s disease disproportionately affects women. The disease is among the most feared, robbing older adults of their memory and other cognitive abilities, ultimately leaving them completely dependent on others for care. Statistics released this year from the Alzheimer’s Association confirm that women are the most frequent providers of this care. Strikingly, however, women also make up more than two-thirds of all Alzheimer’s patients. More than 3.5 million American women, compared to less than 1.8 million men, have Alzheimer’s disease.
Why is the risk for Alzheimer’s disease higher for women? Women are more likely to live to the ages when risk for Alzheimer’s disease is highest. But even at a given age, many studies suggest that women are at greater risk compared to men. Genes, hormones, and lifestyle factors all may play a role. Learning what underlies sex differences may be important not only to better understanding Alzheimer’s disease, but also may be key to developing better treatments and means to prevent it.
Women bear the brunt of Alzheimer’s disease, but they are also positioned to do the most to stop it. Research studies need participants, and women are the ideal volunteers. While some studies seek to elucidate the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and why women are at greater risk, several studies seek to test new medications to prevent the devastating symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. One particular study—the Anti-Amyloid treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study, or the “A4 study”—is currently open to enrollment at more than 60 US research centers. The A4 Study needs healthy female (and male) volunteers age 65 to 85 who want to join the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The A4 study is one of the most important attempts by researchers to examine whether an investigational medication can delay or prevent the onset of memory problems caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The study needs volunteers who are motivated and committed to participate in paper and pencil memory tests, brain scans, and monthly infusions of the study medication or placebo for three years. If successful, this study may point the way toward prevention of the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s researchers are partnering with A Woman’s Nation to increase awareness of the A4 study and other research participation opportunities. If older adults volunteer for studies more frequently, we will more rapidly be able to develop preventative therapies. Several hundred volunteers are still needed for the A4 study. If you would like to learn more about enrolling, click here. To learn more about general research opportunities occurring around the country, visit the National Institutes on Aging website.
Alzheimer’s disease will touch all of our lives but it is a disease that particularly affects women. Women face greater risk but also great opportunity to partner with researchers to do something about it.
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