Study: Half of women at risk of dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke

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Nearly half of women and one in three men are at risk of developing stroke or degenerative neurological diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s during their lifetime, according to a study published Monday.

Dutch researchers considered all three conditions “in order to grasp how big the problem of incurable brain diseases in late life really is,” said the study’s senior author Arfan Ikram.

“We grouped these diseases together not only because they are common but also because there are indications that these often co-occur and might share some overlapping causes,” Ikram, of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands, told AFP.

This could mean there are also overlapping ways to delay or avoid getting the diseases, and the research found that some preventative strategies may cut the risk by 20 and 50 percent.

For the study, published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, researchers tracked more than 12,000 healthy people over the age of 45 from 1990 to 2016.

Over the 26 years, 5,291 people died. Nearly 1,500 were diagnosed with dementia – 80 percent with Alzheimer’s – while 1,285 had a stroke and 263 developed Parkinson’s.

The results indicated that the likelihood of women aged 45 years or older getting the diseases was 48 percent, while it was 36 percent for men.

The gender split is mostly due to the fact that men die earlier than women, Ikram said.