Alzheimer’s Basics: Related Disorders

Dementia is a general term for loss of memory and other mental abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life. It is caused by physical changes in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. But did you know the Alzheimer’s Association is here to help families cope with all forms of dementia? Other causes of dementia include:

Vascular dementia: Previously known as multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia, vascular dementia is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

Frontotemporal dementia: Includes dementias such as behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD), primary progressive aphasia, Pick’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Mixed dementia: In mixed dementia, abnormalities linked to more than one type of dementia occur simultaneously in the brain. Recent studies suggest that mixed dementia is more common than previously thought.

Parkinson’s disease: As Parkinson’s disease progresses, it often results in a progressive dementia similar to dementia with Lewy bodies or Alzheimer’s.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB): People with dementia with Lewy bodies often have memory loss and thinking problems common in Alzheimer’s, but are more likely than people with Alzheimer’s to have initial or early symptoms such as sleep disturbances, well-formed visual hallucinations, and muscle rigidity or other parkinsonian movement features.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: CJD is the most common human form of a group of rare, fatal brain disorders affecting people and certain other mammals. Variant CJD (“mad cow disease”) occurs in cattle, and has been transmitted to people under certain circumstances.

Normal pressure hydrocephalus: This type of dementia causes symptoms including difficulty walking, memory loss and inability to control urination.

Huntington’s Disease: Huntington’s disease is a progressive brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: Korsakoff syndrome is a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). The most common cause is alcohol misuse.

The Alzheimer’s Association recently launched a new section of our web site with new data about each of these types of dementia, including a description of symptoms, brain changes, risk factors, causes, treatments and other key information. Visit http://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp to learn more.