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Other dementias besides Alzheimer’s

In November we recognize Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, an opportunity to shine a light on a debilitating disease that causes memory and thinking problems often referred to as dementia. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  But what else can cause dementia?

The Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry invited David Weidman, MD, a neurologist and associate medical director for research at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix to explain some additional types of dementia.

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“Dementia is a broad category of disorders with accelerated brain decline,” said Dr. Weidman. “While Alzheimer’s is the biggest piece of the pie, there are other reasons for dementia including vascular changes in the brain, Parkinson’s or Lewy Body Dementias and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD).”

Mix of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is more often seen in combination with Alzheimer’s, what can be called a mixed dementia. It is not often the sole cause of dementia. It is usually caused by changes in the small vessels within the brain. Sometimes there are minor or silent strokes in areas of the brain that might affect processing speed, problem solving, and follow-through on complex tasks, with relative sparing of memory and language. Vascular dementia is more commonly encountered in people with stroke risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.

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