Alzheimer's disease may be easily misdiagnosed

Feb 23, 2011

New research shows that Alzheimer's disease and other dementing illnesses may be easily misdiagnosed in the elderly, according to early results of a study of people in Hawaii who had their brains autopsied after death. The research is being released today and will be presented as part of a plenary session at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

"Diagnosing specific dementias in people who are very old is complex, but with the large increase in cases expected within the next 10 years in the United States, it will be increasingly important to correctly recognize, diagnose, prevent and treat age-related cognitive decline," said study author Lon White, MD, MPH, with the Kuakini Medical System in Honolulu.

For the study, researchers autopsied the brains of 426 Japanese-American men who were residents of Hawaii, and who died at an average age of 87 years. Of those, 211 had been diagnosed with a dementia when they were alive, most commonly attributed to Alzheimer's disease.

The study found that about half of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease did not have sufficient numbers of the characterizing that condition to support the diagnosis. Most of those in whom the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease was not confirmed had one or a combination of other brain lesions sufficient to explain the dementia. These included microinfarcts, Lewy bodies, hippocampal sclerosis or generalized brain atrophy.

However, diagnoses of Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia were more accurate. Misdiagnoses increased with older age. They also reflected non-specific manifestations of dementia, a very high prevalence of mixed brain lesions, and the ambiguity of most measures.

"Larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and provide insight as to how we may more accurately diagnose and prevent and other principal dementing disease processes in the elderly," said White.

Explore further: Doctors urge meningitis shots for vulnerable infants, children

More information: This research will be presented as part of the Contemporary and Clinical Issues and Case Studies Plenary Session on Wednesday, April 13, 2011, at the 2011 American Academy of Neurology's Annual Meeting in Honolulu.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Personality changes may help detect form of dementia

May 28, 2007

ST. PAUL, MN – A simple personality test could help doctors detect dementia with Lewy bodies, a form of dementia often confused with Alzheimer's disease, sooner, according to a study published in the May 29, 2007, issue ...

Having a parent with dementia may affect memory in midlife

Feb 18, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia may be more likely to have memory loss themselves in middle age, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of ...

Researchers find parental dementia may lead

Feb 19, 2009

People who have parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia perform less well on formal memory testing when compared to people of the same age whose parents never developed Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. ...

Mild memory loss is not a part of normal aging

Sep 15, 2010

Simply getting older is not the cause of mild memory lapses often called senior moments, according to a new study by researchers at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center. The study, published in the September 15, 2010, online ...

Recommended for you

5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in W. Africa

10 hours ago

(AP)—There has been panic and fear about the deadly Ebola disease spreading ever since Nigerian health officials reported Friday that a Liberian man sick with the disease had traveled to Togo and then Nigeria ...

Scissoring the lipids

11 hours ago

A new strategy which enables molecules to be disconnected essentially anywhere, even remote from functionality, is described by researchers from the University of Bristol in Nature Chemistry today. The method is now being ...

User comments : 0