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A Third Of All Males And Half Of All Females Will Suffer From A Stroke, Parkinson's, Or Dementia: Study

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A photo of an elderly woman. A new study found that women have a higher risk of being diagnosed with stroke, dementia, or Parkinson's in their lifetime. Researchers observed more than 12,000 people over the course of 26 years to examine their risk of neurological diseases.   ( Gerd Altmann | Pixabay )

Researchers from the Netherlands have made a chilling discovery: 50 percent of women and 36.2 percent of men will eventually develop stroke, dementia, or Parkinson's. 

A new study followed over 12,000 men and women aged 45 years old and above, from the city of Rotterdam. It was conducted in the course of 26 years, from 1990 to 2016. Full medical check-ups were carried out every four years. 

The findings were published in The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry

Lifetime Risks Of Common Neurological Diseases

At the end of the study, a team of researchers found that a total of 1,489 were diagnosed with dementia, 1,285 with stroke, and 263 with Parkinson's. Over 400 people were diagnosed with multiple diseases. 

The team also found that 48.2 percent of the women who participated in the study developed one of the three neurological diseases. Only 36.2 percent of the men were diagnosed with one of the three conditions. 

From those results, the researchers inferred that women had a higher risk of developing both dementia and stroke during their lifetime. The risk of being diagnosed with the diseases after the age of 45 is 31.4 percent in women. In comparison, the risk of dementia and stroke diagnosis in men is at 18. 6 percent.

Women, too, have a higher risk of getting a stroke at 21.6 percent while the chance of men getting diagnosed with the disease is only at 19.3 percent. Women and men have an almost equal risk of developing Parkinson's. 

The researchers could not give a definite answer on why women have a higher risk of getting dementia and stroke than men. However, lead researcher Kamran Ikram, an associate professor at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, suggested that it might be because women have longer life expectancies than men. 

Importance Of The Study

Dementia, a stroke, and Parkinson's are still some of the leading causes of death among the elderly around the world. 

"Unfortunately, a great many of these common neurological diseases can still not be easily prevented or treated," said research physician Silvan Licher, also from the Erasmus Medical Center. "Although much progress has been made in recent years in gaining a better understanding of the causes of these diseases, preventative and therapeutic developments lag behind when compared to other common diseases, such as cancer and heart diseases."

The researchers hope that the study would lead to further follow-up examination of the risk of incurable neurological diseases. 

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