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Alzheimer’s Disease, the Most Common Form of Dementia, is One of Many

By Janie Rosman

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Progressive dementia — gets worse as time passes and gradually interferes with more and more cognitive abilities.

Primary dementia — doesn’t result from another disease.

Secondary dementia — occurs as the result of a physical disease or injury.

AD is both a progressive and a cortical dementia. One common type of progressive dementia is Lewy body dementia (LBD), which can occur sporadically in people who have no known family history of this, although rare familial cases are occasionally reported.

Symptoms of LBD overlap with AD in many ways and can include memory impairment, poor judgment, and confusion. People living with LBD can have visual hallucinations, a shuffling gait and flexed posture — symptoms of Parkinson’s disease — and severity of symptoms can vary daily.

Other types of dementia include:

AIDS-related dementia — Also called AIDS dementia complex (ADC); can develop in persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). While uncommon in people who have early-stage HIV, it can increase as HIV progresses, although not everyone with HIV/AIDS develops ADC. Possible early-stage symptoms include difficulty concentrating and remembering phone numbers or appointments, slower thinking and more time needed to finish complicated tasks, irritability, unsteady walking, poor coordination, and depression.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease — This is most common human form of a rare, fatal brain disorder that affects people and certain mammals. When variant CJD (“mad cow disease”) occurs in cattle, it can be transmitted to people under certain circumstances.

Frontotemporal dementia — Includes other dementias like primary progressive aphasia, Pick's disease and progressive supranuclear palsy. Symptoms include personality and behavioral changes and language difficulties.

Huntington’s disease — This is a progressive brain disorder caused by a single defective gene on chromosome 4, characterized by abnormal involuntary movements, a severe decline in thinking and reasoning skills, irritability, depression and other mood changes.

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