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New research has discovered why many women in the early stages of Alzheimer’s are going without a diagnosis.

The researchers found that because women have superior “verbal memory”, the signs of early dementia are often missed.

The findings, which were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago, suggest women sustained their cognitive performance in standard memory tests even when scans showed Alzheimer’s was beginning to impact parts of the brain.

The study found that men began to experience a gradual decline immediately once the disease took a hold.

Unlike men, women showed a sudden and steep drop in memory later on.

“These findings may help to ­explain why women show a more rapid decline across a wide range of cognitive abilities after being ­diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” ­re­searcher Professor Pauline Maki, of the University of Illinois, said.

The World Health Organisation previously named dementia as one of the top 10 global causes of death for women.