May 1, 2019 - 17:44 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Doctors have newly outlined a type of dementia that could be more common than Alzheimer's among the oldest adults, CNN said citing report published Tuesday, April 30 in the journal Brain.
The disease, called LATE, may often mirror the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, though it affects the brain differently and develops more slowly than Alzheimer's. Doctors say the two are frequently found together, and in those cases may lead to a steeper cognitive decline than either by itself.
In developing its report, the international team of authors is hoping to spur research -- and, perhaps one day, treatments -- for a disease that tends to affect people over 80 and "has an expanding but under-recognized impact on public health," according to the paper.
"We're really overhauling the concept of what dementia is," said lead author Dr. Peter Nelson, director of neuropathology at the University of Kentucky Medical Center.
Still, the disease itself didn't come out of the blue. The evidence has been building for years, including reports of patients who didn't quite fit the mold for known types of dementia such as Alzheimer's.
"There isn't going to be one single disease that is causing all forms of dementia," said Sandra Weintraub, a professor of psychiatry, behavioral sciences and neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She was not involved in the new paper.
Weintraub said researchers have been well aware of the "heterogeneity of dementia," but figuring out precisely why each type can look so different has been a challenge. Why do some people lose memory first, while others lose language or have personality changes? Why do some develop dementia earlier in life, while others develop it later?
Experts say this heterogeneity has complicated dementia research, including Alzheimer's, because it hasn't always been clear what the root cause was -- and thus, if doctors were treating the right thing.