Patients with a new subtype of Alzheimer’s disease are commonly misdiagnosed and don’t receive proper treatment, a new study shows. Led by Dr. Melissa Murray, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at the Mayo Clinic, the research team analyzed the brains of more than 1,800 Alzheimer’s patients and found that 11 percent of them had a subtype, called “hippocampal sparing Alzheimer’s disease.” With 5.2 million people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, nearly 600,000 could have this variant of the disease.
Hippocampal sparing Alzheimer’s disease acts in a different way than the most common form of the disease, with symptoms starting earlier in life and declining at a more rapid pace. Symptoms often include, “behavioral problems such as frequent and sometimes angry outbursts, vision problems, and the sense that their limbs do not belong to them and are controlled by an unidentifiable “alien force,” Mayo researchers said, as well as language problems.
“Many of these patients, however, have memories that are near normal, so clinicians often misdiagnose them with a variety of conditions that do not match the underlying neuropathology,” said Murray. “What is tragic is that these patients are commonly misdiagnosed and we have new evidence that suggests drugs now on the market for AD could work best in these hippocampal sparing patients — possibly better than they work in the common form of the disease,” she added.
However, this study was presented at a medical meeting, which means all findings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.