JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Florida have defined a subtype of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that they say is neither well recognized nor treated appropriately.
The variant, called hippocampal sparing AD, made up 11 percent of the 1,821 AD-confirmed brains examined by Mayo Clinic researchers suggesting this subtype is relatively widespread in the general population. The Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.2 million Americans are living with AD. And with nearly half of hippocampal sparing AD patients being misdiagnosed, this could mean that well over 600,000 Americans make up this AD variant, researchers say.
In an oral presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Philadelphia, scientists say hippocampal sparing AD often produces symptoms that are substantially different from the most commonly known form of AD, which affects the hippocampus, the center of memory.
The patients, mostly male, are afflicted at a much younger age, and their symptoms can be bizarre behavioral problems such as frequent and sometimes profane angry outbursts, feelings that their limbs do not belong to them and are controlled by an "alien" unidentifiable force, or visual disturbances in the absence of eye problems, researchers say.
They also decline at a much faster rate than do patients with the most common form of AD.
"Many of these patients, however, have memories that are near normal, so clinicians often misdiagnose them with a variety of conditions that do not match the underlying neuropathology," says the study's lead author, Melissa Murray, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida.
Many of these patients are diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, a disorder characterized by changes in personality and social behavior, or corticobasal syndrome, characterized by movement disorders and cognitive dysfunction. Language dysfunction is also more common
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