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Alzheimer's May Progress Differently in Women, Men
Date:11/26/2012

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Alzheimer's disease may look and act differently in men and women, new research suggests.

An emerging field known as gender-specific medicine has shown pronounced differences among the sexes in terms of heart disease and other conditions. These latest findings -- if confirmed by further research -- may have significant implications for diagnosing and treating Alzheimer's among the sexes.

When people develop Alzheimer's disease, their brains atrophy or shrink. In the study of 109 people with newly diagnosed Alzheimer's, brain scans showed that this atrophy happened earlier in women than men. Women also lost more gray matter in their brains in the year before their diagnosis. However, men seemed to have more problems with their thinking ability when diagnosed with Alzheimer's than their female counterparts did. What's more, men and women lost gray matter in different areas of their brain.

"It is commonly known that loss of volume in hippocampus coincides with cognitive decline, but this is more true in males than females," said study author Dr. Maria Vittoria Spampinato, an associate professor of radiology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain tasked with memory formation, organization and storage.

"The next step is to integrate this information on brain volume loss with other markers of Alzheimer's disease to understand if gender differences exist with other modalities or just brain volume alone," Spampinato said.

The study was presented Sunday at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting, in Chicago.

Dr. Clinton Wright, scientific director of Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said it's too soon to draw any conclusions about gender differences in Alzheimer's disease.

"Additional information would n
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