WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly men are more likely to suffer memory problems than women, new research shows.
The study included 2,050 people, aged 70 to 89, in Olmsted County, Minn., who were interviewed about their memory and medical history, and who underwent testing of their memory and thinking skills.
Overall, nearly 14 percent of the participants had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but the rate was 1.5 times higher in men (19 percent) than in women (14 percent). People with MCI have memory or thinking problems that are more serious than what's associated with normal aging. Although not everyone who has MCI develops Alzheimer's disease, people with the impairment do often go on to develop it, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
The study, published in the Sept. 7 issue of the journal Neurology, also found that about 10 percent of the participants had dementia, and 76 percent had normal memory and thinking skills.
"This is the first study conducted among community-dwelling persons to find a higher prevalence of MCI in men," study author Dr. Ronald Petersen, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.
"If these results are confirmed in other studies, it may suggest that factors related to gender play a role in the disease. For example, men may experience cognitive decline earlier in life but more gradually, whereas women may transition from normal memory directly to dementia at a later age but more quickly," he added.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and a Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's disease research program, also found that MCI was more common among people who had a lower level of education or who were never married.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about age-related memory loss.