Mixed Dementia: What You Should Know

  • A person with mixed dementia has a combination of dementia types, such as Alzheimer’s disease AND vascular dementia.
  • Mixed dementia is diagnosed after a patient dies.
  • There is no FDA-approved treatment for mixed dementia.

Mixed dementia refers to the condition where a person has multiple types of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, or a mix of Alzheimer’s and any other dementia type.

How Common is Mixed Dementia?

It’s difficult to determine the prevalence of mixed dementia. Clinicians traditionally identified one primary dementia type, like Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia, when diagnosing a patient.

But in studies of dead people’s brains, researchers have been discovering that people who have been diagnosed with one dementia type may also have another kind. According to one study, 54% of the study participants who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s had been found to have another type of dementia during autopsies. 

The Alzheimer’s Association says age is a risk factor for several dementia types, so aging people are more likely to develop mixed dementia.

Symptoms of Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have similar symptoms. However, mixed dementia symptoms may progress faster or develop earlier, because the brain has more than one type of problem, or more than one area damaged.

Diagnosis

Mixed dementia can only be definitively diagnosed during an autopsy after the patient has died. When more than one type of abnormality is seen in the brain, like a buildup of tau protein and brain vessels blockages, the condition is diagnosed as mixed dementia.

In some cases, a mixed dementia diagnosis is given to a person who showed symptoms of Alzheimer’s and has had a cardiovascular health problem such as a stroke, because it would suggest that the person had vascular dementia. But with the advancement of imaging tests and the growth of research, it’s likely to diagnose mixed dementia before a patient dies. 

Treatment of Mixed Dementia

There are currently no medications approved by the US FDA for the treatment of mixed dementia. However, the condition appears to respond well to some medications approved for Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Research results vary on the effect of cholinesterase inhibitor medications on participants with mixed dementia. Some results suggest a slowed cognitive decline expected in mixed dementia, and others demonstrated some improvement in thinking and memory.

Other medicines used to treat mixed dementia, specifically the Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia combination, focus on treating blood pressure and managing cholesterol, reducing the likelihood of another stroke, and slowing down the progression of vascular dementia.

Source: Very Well Health


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