Women who have gone through menopause have ‘hyperintensities’ on their brains that increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, study finds
- Researchers found that women who have already gone through menopause have more hyperintensities – a small lesion – on their brains
- People who have more on their brain are more likely to develop cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or suffer a stroke
- Women who experience menopause earlier in life are more likely to suffer from stroke and cognitive decline at a younger age
- Experts knew there was a link between menopause and cognitive problems, although the mechanism was undetermined.
According to a new study, menopause can cause dangerous lesions to form on a woman’s brain, potentially even increasing her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) have found that when women go through menopause, they form hyperintensities in the white matter of their brains, which increases their risk of developing various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease or to suffer a stroke.
Every woman will eventually go through menopause, and the study that reveals that once the process begins, their likelihood of developing these conditions increases significantly compared to men.
Women who experience the process earlier may also develop the disease earlier in life than those who have menopause later.
Women who have already gone through menopause have more hyperintensities on their brains, and the lesions put them at higher risk of cognitive decline (file photo)
“White matter hyperintensities increase as the brain ages, and while they don’t mean a person will develop dementia or have a stroke, larger amounts may increase a person’s risk,” said Dr Monique Breteler, of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE). ), in Bonn, said in a statement.
“Our results imply that white matter hyperintensities progress differently for men and women, where menopause or factors that determine the onset of menopause, such as variations in the aging process, are determining factors.”
The researchers collected data from 3,410 people around the age of 54. More than half were women and 60% of the participants were already menopausal.
A third of the participants had high blood pressure – with half of the cases classified as ‘uncontrolled’.
Each received a brain MRI to look for hyperintensities and other potential damage to brain material.
The researchers found that women who had gone through menopause already had disproportionately higher levels of brain damage.
Postmenopausal women had 30% more cerebral hyperintensities than men.
When adjusting for age, women who had already gone through menopause had 51% more hyperintensities than a woman of the same age who had not yet gone through the process.
Some women have long been reported to suffer from cognitive decline during menopause (file photo)
“The results of our study not only show that more research is needed to investigate how menopause may be related to vascular health in the brain,” Breter said.
“They also demonstrate the need to consider the different health trajectories for men and women, and menopausal status. Our research highlights the importance of gender-specific medicine and more attentive therapy for older women, especially those with vascular risk factors.
The researchers also found a link between higher blood pressure levels and more hyperintensities.
“It is known that high blood pressure, which affects small blood vessels in the brain, can lead to increased white matter hyperintensities,” Breteler added.
Women often self-report symptoms of cognitive decline while in menopause, with nearly half of women reporting symptoms, according to a 2021 Brazilian study.
A 2020 Vanderbilt University study found the same, with lead researcher Dr. Paul Newhouse saying: “These findings are important for women’s health and contribute to our understanding of why some women are at increased risk. of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to men.”
Why exactly this is the case has never been determined, but with this study, experts now have a solid foundation to work from for future research.
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