Dementia-related suffering is multifaceted because cognitive and physical functioning slowly deteriorates. Older age and gender, two of the most important risk factors for dementia, are not modifiable. Lifestyle factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and poor diet, modulate the susceptibility to dementia in both men and women. The degree to which the resulting health conditions (for example, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) affect the risk of dementia varies by sex.
Depending on the subtype of dementia, the prevalence ratio between men and women varies. For example, women are at greater risk of developing dementia from Alzheimer's disease, while men are at greater risk of developing vascular dementia. This review examines sex and gender differences in the development of dementia with the aim of highlighting factors that require further research. Considering sex as a biological variable in dementia research promises to advance our understanding of the pathophysiology and treatment of these conditions.