Navigation Links
Dementia Often Missed as Cause of Death
Date:12/9/2008

This could skew the truth about deadliness of Alzheimer's, report says

TUESDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that medical officials often fail to record severe dementia as a cause of death in patients with the condition.

This finding not only points to a lack of knowledge about how dementia -- a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease -- can be a deadly illness, it suggests that deaths due to Alzheimer's and dementia may be severely underestimated, said report co-author Dr. Susan Mitchell, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"With dementia so underrepresented on death certificates, it further exacerbates the issue of dementia not being a terminal illness," Mitchell said. In addition, she said, bad assumptions about dementia can lead doctors and relatives to make ill-informed decisions about patients at the end of life.

Alzheimer's disease is the fifth leading cause of death among people 65 and older in the United States, according to 2004 federal statistics. Those figures were based on information from death certificates, Mitchell said, and some studies have suggested the numbers are too low.

In the new study, Mitchell and her colleagues examined the medical records and death certificates of 165 patients with advanced dementia who died between 2003 and 2007. They all lived in Boston-area nursing homes.

Thirty-seven percent of the death certificates didn't list dementia as the main cause of death or a contributing factor. Just 16 percent listed dementia as the main cause of death.

In patients with diagnosed Alzheimer's disease, one-third didn't mention the condition as a cause of death or contributing factor, the study found.

The findings were published in a letter in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mitchell said the failure to recognize dementia as a cause of death doesn't appear to be intentional. "There has been a general under-recognition of dementia as a cause of death. People have trouble getting their head around that."

Dementia, known in the past as senility, is more than just a disease of the brain. "It causes a gradual deterioration of not only the mind but the body as well," Mitchell said. "The body gets weaker and weaker. Just like in cancer or AIDS, for example, people may ultimately have a pneumonia at the end."

Lack of understanding about the deadliness of dementia could lead relatives to push for unnecessary treatment in the last days of life, Mitchell said.

"Let's say someone gets pneumonia or eating problems when they're in this final stage. Understanding that they're dying of this terminal illness, that they're still going to have this disease they'll ultimately succumb to, might lead them to take a less aggressive approach," she said.

Dr. Claudia Kawas, a member of the Alzheimer's Association medical and scientific advisory council, said the study findings aren't surprising. The number of deaths caused by dementia could be double those reported in statistics -- or perhaps three to four times as high, she said.

As the U.S. population ages, it's crucial to develop correct statistics about health care, said Kawas, a professor of neurology and neurobiology and behavior at the University of California, Irvine. "This study says you're not going to be able to project them accurately" if the death certificates are used.

More information

Learn more about Alzheimer's disease from the Alzheimer's Association.



SOURCES: Susan Mitchell, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and senior scientist, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston; Claudia Kawas, M.D., member, Alzheimer's Association medical and scientific advisory council, and professor of neurology and neurobiology and behavior, University of California, Irvine; Dec. 10, 2008, Journal of the American Medical Association


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Study sheds light on causes of HIV dementia
2. Ginkgo Biloba for Prevention of Dementia
3. Hector Elizondo: Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimers Dementia
4. Nov. 10 Webinar on Dementia Prevention in Senior Communities to Discuss Brain Fitness Programming with UCLAs Dr. Gary Small
5. 10 Surprising Facts About Using Brain Training to Fight Dementia
6. Job, Education May Buffer Against Dementia
7. Thomas Jefferson University to Host Summit With National Experts to Discuss A New Age in Dementia Care
8. Cognitive Score Changes Over Time May Hint at Dementia
9. Study shows that older adult caregivers of people with dementia have worse sleep than noncaregivers
10. Case Western Reserve University study finds caregivers of spouses with dementia enjoy life less
11. Fish May Ward Off Dementia and Stroke
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Love is in the air at King ... colors, assortments and packaging. This staple for Valentine’s Day is a must-have, and can ... For Valentine’s Day, not only are long-stem roses available, but also other flower bouquets, ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... ... stage for new clinical and scientific initiatives have all marked the last 12 ... appointed President and CEO of the nation’s oldest cancer center, Candace S. Johnson, ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Francisco ... micro-needling services in their Napa Valley office. The technique utilizes the body’s own ... Dr. Canales and Dr. Furnas, are part of only a select few cosmetic ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... ... After years as an active staff surgeon and having served as the director ... transitioned to chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery at what is now known ... began a second three-year term in January of 2016. , The original selection was ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... In the fourth quarter ... gathered at the La Valencia Hotel in San Diego, California to discuss changes ... the year’s most outstanding franchise, walking away with the coveted David Wright Award ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... India , February 5, 2016 ... a new market research report "Fetal (Labor & Delivery) ... & Antepartum), Warmer, Incubator, Pulse Oximeter, Phototherapy/Jaundice Management Devices, ... published by MarketsandMarkets, This report studies the global market ... market is estimated at USD 6.28 Billion in 2015 ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016 For hospitals considering enrollment in the ... in the program, the Health Resources and Services Administration,s ... , Mega-Guidance , could have significant impact on plans ... September 2016. Essential Insights , Daniel ... summarizes the Mega-Guidance,s key proposed changes, including a new ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016  SciClone Pharmaceuticals, ... announced it has entered into a settlement agreement ... (SEC) fully resolving the SEC,s investigation into possible ... Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SciClone ... million, including disgorgement, pre-judgment interest and a penalty.  ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: