It is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with accumulation of Beta amyloid (plaque) and tau proteins (tangles). Beta amyloid has been called the “Darth Vader” of Alzheimer’s. 5 million Americans suffer currently; in 2050, the number is estimated to range from 11-16 million. It is the 6th leading cause of death. Most studies show that the incidence in both men and women is the same until the age of 80, when the incidence increases in women. Some studies show that the incidence is increased in women by up to a factor of 6. The major risk factors- Age, Sex, Genetics, and Hormone Deficiency.
Carriers of the Apolipoprotein E-e4 gene have an increased risk, as this gene results in less breakdown of Beta amyloid in the brain. In women, the negative effect is more pronounced.