New research could lead to improved Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia

New research led by Drexel University College of Medicine finds that Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia have more in common than what current diagnostic guidelines for these diseases state. Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia are the most common forms of dementia, yet they are treated as completely different diseases.

The study included an analysis of 223 patients that suffer from dementia, who were then diagnosed with one of these two diseases at an outpatient memory clinic. The patients were tested by a team of specialists and then took part in neuropsychological testing, brain scans and blood tests. The study will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers were able to sort the patients into four groups: those with moderate/mixed dementia, mild/mixed dementia, dysexecutive group with significant impairment in multi-tasking, and an amnestic group with profound memory loss.

David J. Libon, PhD, a professor in the Department of Neurology and the lead investigator of the study, told Drexel College of Medicine that, “Through this study, we were able to determine that these two common forms of dementia are not wholly separate. These shared characteristics should be taken into consideration both in the development of future diagnostic guidelines and in selecting patients for newly emerging medicine designed to treat dementia.”