50% of women will develop dementia, Parkinson’s or suffer a stroke in their lifetime

2 October 2018        

Category: BHF Comment

Half of women are likely to develop dementia, Parkinson’s disease or suffer a stroke during their lifetime, according to new research.

Brain scan

Monitoring the health of more than 12,000 people, researchers from the Netherlands found that about a third of men and half of women at the age of 45 are likely to go on to be diagnosed with one of the conditions. Interestingly, those who went on to suffer from dementia, Parkinson’s or stroke were also more likely to have been suffering from health problems such as high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes earlier in life.

The researchers have suggested that, if the onset of dementia, Parkinson’s and stroke could be delayed by a few years, the risk of ever developing these conditions could be lowered by 20% among 45 year olds and as much as 50% for those over the age of 85.

Responding to the study, our Senior Cardiac Nurse Emily McGrath, said:

“This large study is another strong indicator that conditions like stroke and dementia aren’t ‘old people’s’ diseases. They can devastate the lives of young men and women and need to be tackled at their root. 

“High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can significantly increase your risk of developing vascular dementia or stroke. Improving the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of risk factors like these could protect thousands of individuals and their families from heartbreak.

The study

The research was led by teams from the University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the study monitored the health of 12,102 people under the age of 45 between 1990 and 2016.

According to the study’s findings, the overall risk of a 45-year-old later developing one of the three conditions was 48% for women and 36% for men.

Dementia appeared to be a greater risk for women, with a 25.9% chance of developing the condition during their lifetime, compared with 13.7% for men.

Find out more about risk factors