Researchers Find a New Alzheimer’s Disease Subtype

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As many as 600,000 people have potentially been misdiagnosed with the wrong variation of Alzheimer’s disease or a wide variety of other conditions, according to a report from the Mayo Clinic which claims to have found a new subtype of Alzheimer’s called hippocampal sparing. The misdiagnosis means those patients are likely not getting adequate care or the right medications to assist with their specific condition.

The team of researchers studied over 1,800 brains that had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which led them to discover that those with a unique type of Alzheimer’s subtype had noticeable damage to the neurons in their brains, which affected their awareness, behavior, and motor skills, as well as causing speech and vision problems. They also noted some clear differences between what they had been diagnosed with and the specific symptoms of the subtype. The subtype was found in 11 percent of Alzheimer’s cases, which equates to approximately 600,000 misdiagnosed patients.

The most important distinction of this Alzheimer’s subtype is that patients tend to decline at a much faster speed than those with what is traditionally known as Alzheimer’s. It also affects more men than women, and appears to occur at an earlier age than Alzheimer’s typically onsets at. It is characterized by symptoms including angry outbursts, feelings of loss of control over a limb, and vision problems that seem to appear suddenly.

It isn’t surprising that a number of Alzheimer’s cases are misdiagnoses, as there is no single objective test which can identify the disease. A diagnosis requires a series of tests including blood work, neurological tests, and urine tests, as well as a full medical history. Even then, other conditions are occasionally misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s as well.

The findings were presented at the annual American Academy of Neurology meeting in Philadelphia. It has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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