Sunday, July 11, 2010

Common Dementias Including Alzheimer's

Here's more information from the National Alzheimer's Association about common types of Dementia and their typical characteristics.

"Alzheimer’s disease is the Most common type of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Characteristics include difficulty remembering names and recent events is often an early clinical symptom; apathy and depression are also often early symptoms. Later symptoms include impaired judgment, disorientation, confusion, behavior changes, and trouble speaking, swallowing and walking.

Hallmark abnormalities are deposits of the protein fragment beta-amyloid (plaques) and
twisted strands of the protein tau (tangles).

Vascular dementia (also known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia or vascular cognitive impairment) is considered the second most common type of dementia.

Impairment is caused by decreased blood flow to parts of the brain, often due to a series
of small strokes that block arteries.

Symptoms often overlap with those of Alzheimer’s, although memory may not be as
seriously affected.

Mixed dementia characterized by the presence of the hallmark abnormalities of Alzheimer’s and another type of dementia, most commonly vascular dementia, but also other types, such as dementia with Lewy bodies.

Dementia with Lewy bodies includes a pattern of decline which may be similar to Alzheimer’s, including problems with memory and judgment and behavior changes. Alertness and severity of cognitive symptoms may fluctuate daily. Visual hallucinations, muscle rigidity and tremors are common.

Hallmarks include Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein) that
form inside nerve cells in the brain.

Parkinson's disease - Many people who have Parkinson’s disease develop dementia in the later stages of the disease.

The hallmark abnormality is Lewy bodies (abnormal deposits of the protein alpha-synuclein)
that form inside nerve cells in the brain.

Frontotemporal dementia involves damage to brain cells, especially in the front and side regions of the brain.

Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behavior and difficulty with language.
No distinguishing microscopic abnormality is linked to all cases.

Pick’s disease, characterized by Pick’s bodies, is one type of frontotemporal dementia.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a rapidly fatal disorder that impairs memory and coordination and causes behavior changes.

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is believed to be caused by consumption of products
from cattle affected by mad cow disease - caused by the misfolding of prion protein throughout the brain.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus - Caused by the buildup of fluid in the brain.
Symptoms include difficulty walking, memory loss and inability to control urine.
Can sometimes be corrected with surgical installation of a shunt in the brain to drain
excess fluid.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a condition in which a person has problems with memory, language or another essential cognitive function that are severe enough to
be noticeable to others and show up on tests, but not severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Some people with MCI go on to develop dementia. For others, the symptoms of MCI do not progress to dementia, and some people who have MCI at one point in time later revert to normal cognitive status.

To learn more about the potential role of MCI as a transitional state to early Alzheimer’s disease, see the section, Special Report: Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease."

The National Alzheimer's Association provides invaluable information and services. I sincerely hope you will join me and my special guest, Debra Anderson, Programs Manager for the Alzheimer's Association-Desert Southwest Chapter, Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at Noon EDT (9:00AM PDT) -

Sandra - Caregiver Guru for the Caregiver Generation

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