Sex differences in risk factors for vascular contributions to cognitive impairment & dementia

Neurochem Int. 2019 Jul;127:38-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2018.11.014. Epub 2018 Nov 22.


Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) is the second most common cause of dementia. While males overall appear to be at a slightly higher risk for VCID throughout most of the lifespan (up to age 85), some risk factors for VCID more adversely affect women. These include female-specific risk factors associated with pregnancy related disorders (e.g. preeclampsia), menopause, and poorly timed hormone replacement. Further, presence of certain co-morbid risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, also may more adversely affect women than men. In contrast, some risk factors more greatly affect men, such as hyperlipidemia, myocardial infarction, and heart disease. Further, stroke, one of the leading risk factors for VCID, has a higher incidence in men than in women throughout much of the lifespan, though this trend is reversed at advanced ages. This review will highlight the need to take biological sex and common co-morbidities for VCID into account in both preclinical and clinical research. Given that there are currently no treatments available for VCID, it is critical that we understand how to mitigate risk factors for this devastating disease in both sexes.

Keywords: Hormone replacement therapy; Menopause; Metabolic disease; Sex; Stroke; Vascular dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / physiopathology*
  • Dementia, Vascular / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Factors*