10 Types of Dementia: Symptoms and Causes

I. Introduction

Dementia is a general term for a group of symptoms associated with a decline in cognitive function that affects daily life. It is characterized by memory loss, difficulty with language, problem-solving, and impairment in other cognitive abilities. With over 50 million people living with dementia worldwide (WHO, 2021), understanding the different types is crucial for proper diagnosis, treatment, and support.

This article will discuss 10 types of dementia, their symptoms, and their causes. We will also provide authoritative citations for further information.

II. Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, accounting for approximately 60-80% of cases (Alzheimer’s Association, 2021). It is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain.

– Gradual memory loss
– Difficulty in problem-solving and planning
– Trouble with language and speech
– Confusion about time and place
– Changes in mood and behavior

Causes and risk factors:
– Age
– Genetics (e.g., APOE4 gene)
– Family history
– Cardiovascular disease risk factors

(Alzheimer’s Association, 2021)

III. Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second most common type of dementia, accounting for approximately 10% of cases. It results from reduced blood flow to the brain due to various conditions affecting the blood vessels.

– Impaired judgment and planning
– Memory problems
– Slowed thinking
– Difficulty with motor skills and balance

Causes and risk factors:
– Stroke
– Diabetes
– High blood pressure
– High cholesterol
– Smoking

(O’Brien & Thomas, 2015)

IV. Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain.

– Fluctuating cognition
– Visual hallucinations
– Parkinson’s-like symptoms (e.g., stiffness, shuffling gait)
– Sleep disorders
– Depression and anxiety

Causes and risk factors:
– Age
– Genetics (e.g., GBA gene)

(McKeith et al., 2017)

V. Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) refers to a group of disorders affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. It is more common in younger people, typically occurring between the ages of 40 and 65.

– Behavioral changes (e.g., apathy, disinhibition)
– Language problems
– Memory impairment (develops later in the disease course)

Causes and risk factors:
– Genetic mutations (e.g., MAPT, GRN, C9orf72 genes)
– Family history

(Rascovsky et al., 2011)

VI. Mixed Dementia

Mixed dementia refers to the coexistence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, such as vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia.

– A combination of symptoms associated with each type of dementia

Causes and risk factors:
– Multiple factors from each type of dementia

(Alzheimer’s Association, 2021)

VII. Parkinson’s Disease Dementia

Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) is a cognitive decline that can develop in individuals with Parkinson’s disease after several years.

– Memory problems
– Visual hallucinations
– Attention and concentration difficulties
– Trouble with problem-solving and decision-making

Causes and risk factors:
– Parkinson’s disease progression

(Aarsland et al., 2005)

VIII. Huntington’s Disease

Huntington’s disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive, motor, and psychiatric symptoms. Dementia is a common feature of the disease.

– Memory impairment
– Difficulty with planning and organizing
– Language problems
– Apathy and irritability

Causes and risk factors:
– Genetic mutation in the HTT gene
– Family history

(Ross & Tabrizi, 2011)

IX. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, rapidly progressive, and fatal neurodegenerative disorder caused by abnormal proteins called prions.

– Rapidly progressive dementia
– Muscle stiffness and weakness
– Ataxia (difficulty with balance and coordination)
– Myoclonus (sudden, involuntary muscle jerks)

Causes and risk factors:
– Sporadic (unknown cause) – most common form
– Inherited genetic mutations
– Exposure to infected human tissue or brain (e.g., contaminated surgical instruments)

(Appleby & Lyketsos, 2011)

X. Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) is a type of dementia caused by the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles, resulting in enlarged ventricles and increased pressure on the brain tissue.

– Memory problems
– Difficulty with walking and balance
– Urinary incontinence

Causes and risk factors:
– Idiopathic (unknown cause) – most common form
– Head injury
– Brain infection
– Subarachnoid hemorrhage

(Relic et al., 2021)

XI. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS) is a type of dementia caused by severe thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, commonly associated with chronic alcohol abuse.

– Severe memory impairment
– Confabulation (inventing memories to fill gaps)
– Disorientation
– Coordination problems

Causes and risk factors:
– Chronic alcohol abuse
– Poor nutrition
– Gastric bypass surgery
– Eating disorders

(Artsy et al., 1995)

XII. Conclusion

Early diagnosis of the specific type of dementia is essential for providing appropriate treatments and support options for patients and their families. While there is currently no cure for most forms of dementia, interventions can help slow down the progression and improve the quality of life for those affected. Continued research and education about dementia are crucial to finding effective treatments and ultimately, a cure.

XIII. References

Aarsland, D., Andersen, K., Larsen, J. P., Lolk, A., & Kragh-Sorensen, P. (2005). Prevalence and characteristics of dementia in Parkinson’s disease: an 8-year prospective study. Archives of neurology, 62(3), 387-392.

Alzheimer’s Association. (2021). 2021 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 17(3), 327-406.

Appleby, B. S., & Lyketsos, C. G. (2011). Rapidly progressive dementia. Continuum (Minneapolis, Minn.), 17(2 Dementia), 183-195.

Artsy, E., Mittenberg, W., & Landau, W. M. (1995). Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome. Neurology, 45(5), 1045-1046.

McKeith, I. G., Boeve, B. F., Dickson, D. W., Halliday, G., Taylor, J. P., Weintraub, D., … & Kosaka, K. (2017). Diagnosis and management of dementia with Lewy bodies: Fourth consensus report of the DLB Consortium. Neurology, 89(1), 88-100.

O’Brien, J. T., & Thomas, A. (2015). Vascular dementia. The Lancet, 386(10004), 1698-1706.

Rascovsky, K., Hodges, J. R., Knopman, D., Mendez, M. F., Kramer, J. H., Neuhaus, J., … & Miller, B. L. (2011). Sensitivity of revised diagnostic criteria for the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia. Brain, 134(9), 2456-2477.

Relic, A., Mazul-Sunko, B., Kozic, S., Hladnik, A., & Pekic, V. (2021). Idiopathic Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: A Mini-Review. Medicina (Kaunas, Lithuania), 57(2), 146.

Ross, C. A., & Tabrizi, S. J. (2011). Huntington’s disease: from molecular pathogenesis to clinical treatment. The Lancet Neurology, 10(1), 83-98.

WHO. (2021). Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia

Leave a comment