Women have more brain changes after menopause – Neuroscience News

Summary: Women who have undergone menopause have higher white matter intensities in the brain than pre-menopausal women and men of the same age.

Source: NAA

According to a new study published in the June 29, 2022 online issue of Neurology.

White matter hyperintensities are tiny lesions seen on brain scans that become more common with age or in uncontrolled high blood pressure. These brain biomarkers have been linked in some studies to an increased risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.

“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 study author Monique MB Breteler, MD, Ph.D., of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), in Bonn, Germany, and a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Our study looked at the role that menopause may have on the amounts of these brain biomarkers. 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 study involved 3,410 people aged 54 on average. Of these, 58% were women, and of the women, 59% were postmenopausal. Additionally, 35% of all participants had high blood pressure and of these, half had uncontrolled high blood pressure.

All participants had MRI brain scans. The researchers reviewed the scans and calculated the amount of white matter hyperintensities for each participant. The average total volume of these brain biomarkers was 0.5 milliliters (ml). The average total brain volume was 1180 ml for men and 1053 ml for women. The average total volume of white matter, the area of ​​the brain where white matter hyperintensities can be found, was 490 ml for men and 430 ml for women.

After adjusting for age and vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, the researchers found that postmenopausal women had more of these brain biomarkers than men of the same age. In people 45 years and older, postmenopausal women had an average total volume of white matter hyperintensities of 0.94 ml compared to 0.72 ml for men. The researchers also found that the increase in brain biomarkers accelerated with age and at a faster rate in women than in men.

Premenopausal women and men of a similar age had no difference in the average amount of white matter hyperintensities.

The researchers also found that postmenopausal women had more white matter hyperintensities than premenopausal women of the same age. In a group of participants aged 45 to 59, postmenopausal women had an average total volume of white matter hyperintensities of 0.51 ml compared to 0.33 ml for premenopausal women.

There was no difference between postmenopausal and premenopausal women using hormone therapy. Breteler said this finding suggests that hormone therapy after menopause may not have a protective effect on the brain.

Unrelated to menopausal status, women with uncontrolled high blood pressure had higher amounts of this brain biomarker than men.

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The researchers also found that postmenopausal women had more white matter hyperintensities than premenopausal women of the same age. Image is in public domain

“It is known that high blood pressure, which affects small blood vessels in the brain, can lead to increased white matter hyperintensities,” Breteler said.

“The results of our study not only show that more research is needed to investigate how menopause may be related to brain vascular health. They also demonstrate the need to consider the different health trajectories of men and women, and of menopausal status.

“Our research underscores the importance of gender-specific medicine and more attentive therapy for older women, especially those with vascular risk factors.”

A limitation of the study was that the researchers did not know the exact age of onset of menopause or whether some participants were in perimenopause.

About this menopause and neuroscience research news

Author: MA Rosko
Source: NAA
Contact: MA Rosko – AAN
Image: Image is in public domain

Original research: The findings will be published in Neurology

#Women #brain #menopause #Neuroscience #News

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