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: Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

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

WHO revises Ebola toll

2 hours ago

The World Health Organization Friday revised its figures showing more people killed by the deadly Ebola virus, but the number of cases of the disease was slightly lower.

Routines most vital in avoiding Ebola infection: WHO

20 hours ago

Meticulously following stringent routines when putting on and removing protective equipment is more important than the kind of gear health care workers use to ward off Ebola infection, the World Health Organization said Friday.

A look at latest Ebola developments

21 hours ago

No African countries are on the United Nations list of contributors to fight Ebola. With few exceptions, African governments and institutions are offering only marginal support as the continent faces its ...

Liberia opens one of largest Ebola treatment centers

21 hours ago

Remembering those who have died in the world's deadliest Ebola outbreak, Liberia's president opened one of the country's largest Ebola treatment centers in Monrovia on Friday amid hopes that the disease is ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.