The aging brain: risk factors and interventions for long term brain health in women.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Current opinion in obstetrics & gynecology


swedish; seattle; swedish neuro; Female; Humans; Aging; Menopause; Brain; Risk Factors; Dementia


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Poor cognitive aging and dementia pose a significant public health burden, and women face unique risks compared to men. Recent research highlights the role of genetics, menopause, chronic disease, and lifestyle in risk and resilience in women's cognitive aging. This work suggests avenues for clinical action at midlife that may change the course of brain health in aging.

RECENT FINDINGS: Studies indicate women's risk for poor cognitive aging relates in part to hormone changes at menopause, a time when memory, brain structure and function, and Alzheimer's pathology may be observed in women and not men. Medical and lifestyle risks including diabetes, hypertension, and low physical activity also contribute to women's unique risks. At the same time, literature on resilience suggests women may benefit from lifestyle and chronic disease intervention, possibly more than men. Current studies emphasize the importance of interacting genetic and lifestyle risks, and effects of social determinants of health.

SUMMARY: Women have greater risk than men for poor cognitive aging; however, by treating the whole person, including genetics, lifestyle, and social environment, clinicians have an opportunity to support healthy cognitive aging in women and reduce the future public health burden of dementia.

Clinical Institute

Women & Children

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)

Clinical Institute

Mental Health


Behavioral Health