Women and Neurological Diseases
Neurological diseases are among the leading causes of mortality and disabilities in the elderly population. Parkinsonism, strokes and Dementia come under the umbrella term of Neurological diseases. These neurological diseases have a detrimental effect on not only the patient but their family and caregivers. They are also known to show substantial co-occurrence, therefore an individual with Dementia has an increased risk of stroke.
My name is Lucy Field and I am research Scientist at Future Genetics. I have recently read an article which was published by University medical centre in Rotterdam which focuses on Neurological diseases. They conducted a study; the objective of this study was to ‘quantify the burden of common neurological disease in older adults in terms of lifetime risks such as co-occurrence and preventive potential. In this study the health of 12,102 people was monitored over a 26-year period in the years 1990 to 2016. The long duration of the study allows clear identification of co-occurrence of a disease and allows a large sample size giving more reliable data and conclusions
The overall conclusion of this research study was that one in two women and one in three men will develop a Neurological disease in their lifetime. This shows it is more common in women than men, throughout the study data on women was compared with men. The study mainly focuses on age, as all of the individuals involved were above the age of 45. There was evidence to show women are more likely to develop a neurological disease. Not only as a female but a female scientist I believe it is important to raise awareness. Through this article I hope to educate more women about the risk of these common disease allowing us to further educate more women.
In the study Dementia was seen to be the most common disease with a total of 1489 individual’s being diagnosed, then 1,285 suffered from a stroke. Ischemic strokes were more common at 64.7% and 9.8% had a hemorrhagic stroke. Parkinsonism was the least common neurological disease with 263 individuals’ being diagnosed. A lot of individual’s are only diagnosed with one of the diseases in their lifespan. However, at the age of 45 there was a substantial risk of being diagnosed with multiple diseases. A total of 438 individuals were diagnosed with multiple diseases. Following the trend of more women being affected by one neurological disease, more women were diagnosed with multiple diseases a total of 4% Versus 3% of men. Women were also almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with both stroke and dementia. These high figures show the importance of the need for better prevention strategies.
Neurological disease versus Other common diseases
Neurological diseases get under investigated in comparison to common diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This is because Cancer and Heart disease commonly affect middle aged individual and and neurological diseases normally have a later onset. According to this study, this should not be the case as the lifetime risk of developing Breast cancer in 1 in 8 compared to 1 in 2 developing a neurological disease. The same principle applies for heart disease which affects 1 in 4 people. Those who had been diagnosed with one of the neurological diseases had a higher prevalence of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and an abnormal heart rhythm.
Importance of Preventative interventions
These findings clearly display the importance of preventative interventions which will delay the onset. It has been estimated that if the onset of the diseases is delayed by 1 to 3 years, the remaining risk of developing would be reduced by 20% in 45-year olds and 50% in those older than 85. This huge reduction in both age categories, this demonstrates the importance of the development of a treatment to delay the onset and to maintain a healthy brain. This is one of Future genetics aims.