Contributed by S. Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD
Alzheimer’s disease is and will likely remain the commonest cause of dementia. A less well-known fact, however, is that there are also other dementia causing pathologies that are commonly referred to as Alzheimer’s disease related dementia (ADRD). While the scientific community is warming up to the idea that it should consider these other causes in all dementia related research, there is a pressing need for the wider community to be informed about them.
These alternative causes of dementia are often age dependent. In people who are younger than 65 years old, a common alternative condition is a devastating illness called frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Clinically, FTD presents as either language or behavioral impairment and can remain undiagnosed due to its atypical presentation and young age of onset. In older individuals on the other hand, Lewy body dementia is a common pathology. It can present with a combination of features that look like Parkinson’s disease and cognitive impairment. Vascular dementia is another frequent dementia that can either be secondary to strokes or due to accumulation of tiny vascular attacks that don’t necessarily present as clinical strokes.
In summary, Alzheimer’s disease is only one of many pathologies leading to dementia. Increased awareness of the other causes will lead to timely diagnosis and appropriate management of the RD component of ADRD!
For more information and resources on ADRD, visit: https://www.mind.uci.edu/resources/#education
About S. Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD
Dr. Sajjadi is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and a behavioral neurologist with UCI Health. As a UCI MIND investigator, Dr. Sajjadi leads a lab of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees focused on clinical studies of different types of dementia, including hippocampal sclerosis of aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and primary progressive aphasia. His lab uses brain imaging, neuropsychological testing, and other biomarkers to improve understanding of the clinical profile of those suffering from dementia.