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From Medill Reports

Courtesy of National Institute on Aging
Those who suffer from mild cognitive impairment may later
develop dementia. The most common form of dementia is
 Alzheimer's disease.
First you lose your keys. Next thing you know, you find yourself blanking out on mundane tasks around the house. What were you supposed to be doing again? 

It’s common knowledge that aging is linked with forgetfulness and in more serious cases, various forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. But a new study, published in the current online edition of the journal Neurology, has found a twist: Men are more likely to suffer mild memory loss than women.

The study comes as a surprise due to the higher incidence of dementia among women said Dr. Diana Kerwin, geriatrician at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

But this may also have something to do with the fact that women generally live longer than men. If you’ve recently watched Meryl Streep’s performance of Margaret Thatcher’s battle with dementia, you may remember the Iron Lady outlived her husband.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging measured the incidence of mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, among 1,450 subjects from the Rochester area of Minnesota age 70 to 89. All subjects were normal at the start of the testing and were evaluated in 15-month intervals.

Dr. Rosebud Roberts, the study author and epidemiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said it was important to remember that mild cognitive impairment affects both men and women. “The fact that the MCI risk is higher in men than women does not mean that MCI does not occur in women. Women should also be aware of risk factors, but men may need to address risk factors earlier,” she said.

Mild cognitive impairment, unlike dementia, is characterized by losses in memory that do not significantly interfere with daily activities. Cognitive abilities may remain stable or even return to normal. 

But being diagnosed with MCI is not to be taken lightly. “MCI is thought to be a clinical step prior to someone being diagnosed to dementia,” Kerwin said. “They are not the same thing but two points on a continuum.”

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