Answers to Common Alzheimer’s Disease Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about Alzheimer’s disease and how to live with and manage the condition.

What’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's disease?

Dr. Larry Lawhorne discusses the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

   

A very common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, accounting for 40 to 60 percent of all cases of dementia. But there many causes of dementia, such as vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, normal pressure hydrocephalus and frontotemporal dementia. The most common after Alzheimer's disease is vascular dementia. Vascular dementia occurs in a setting of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and other cardiovascular diseases. While Alzheimer's patients lose function slowly, people with vascular dementia lose their ability to remember and think in a step-wise progression.

Making a diagnosis can be complicated because now we think there is mixed dementia. Someone may be on his way to developing Alzheimer's disease but may also have enough vascular risk factors to have vascular dementia, too. Lewy body dementia is an interesting and distinctive disorder. People with Lewy body dementia often first experience visual hallucinations. They may also have some movement disorder. They may have a little bit of tremor. They may have problems walking. People with Lewy body dementia are also very sensitive to antipsychotic medicines, which tend to make them much more unsteady.

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Source: Larry Lawhorne, MD, Wright State Physicians; National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s Association