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Alzheimer's DiseaseMixed Dementia Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

Commonly asked questions about mixed dementia disease:

What is Mixed Dementia Disease?

Mixed dementia is a condition indicating that more than one type of dementia is occurring simultaneously within a patient’s brain. Symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s are present, as well as blood vessel changes associated with vascular dementia. These symptoms often coexist with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease.

What is the Cause of Mixed Dementia?

The combination of two or more types of dementia may have a greater impact on the brain than typical dementia. Researchers are currently looking at evidence that suggests the presence of more than one type of dementia may increase the chances of the patient developing more symptoms.

How is Mixed Dementia Diagnosed?

Oftentimes, mixed dementia is not diagnosed immediately. In older adults initially diagnosed with a specific type of dementia, the presence of mixed dementia may only be discovered by autopsy reports.

Autopsy studies play an important role in determining the prevalence of mixed dementia. Researchers can correlate each participant’s cognitive health, any diagnosed problems during each stage, and the analysis of the brain after death.

What are the Symptoms of Mixed Dementia?

Mixed dementia symptoms may vary depending on the types of brain changes that occur and the areas affected. Symptoms, however, may be similar to those of Alzheimer’s, Lewy bodies, and/or vascular dementia. In few cases, it can be determined that more than one type of dementia is present based on a patient’s symptoms.

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Mixed Dementia?

Because vascular dementia is one of the diseases associated with mixed dementia, risk factors like hypertension and high blood pressure may increase the risk of developing it. Likewise, risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease also play a prominent role in mixed dementia. Age, genetics, and family history all contribute to and strengthen the possibility of a mixed dementia diagnosis.

How is Mixed Dementia Disease Treated?

Treatment for mixed dementia is limited, as patients are often misdiagnosed as having only a single type of dementia, physicians often treat their patients based on that specific type. Additionally, no drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat specifically mixed dementia. Because many physicians believe Alzheimer’s is closely linked with mixed dementia, they often prescribe drugs that are FDA approved for Alzheimer’s disease.

The ability to detect the presence of multiple brain abnormalities will be increasingly important for researchers to develop next-generation drugs that target mixed dementia.

What is the Life Expectancy of Mixed Dementia?

Because Mixed dementia is usually linked to Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, and Dementia for Lewy bodies, life expectancy can be relatively malleable. Alzheimer’s general expectancy is around 8-12 years from diagnosis, whereas dementia with Lewy bodies has a life expectancy of 5-7 years. To get a more accurate estimate for mixed dementia, one would look at the stage the patient is in and the strength of the symptoms.

If the patient is diagnosed with vascular dementia, the eventual health decline is often linked to strokes. Studies have shown that average life expectancy for this type of dementia can be around 4 years after diagnosis. It is much simpler to estimate, as it depends on the frequency and strength of each stroke.

How Do I Prevent Mixed Dementia Disease?

Similar to vascular dementia, prolonged attention to cardiovascular risks and overall heart and blood vessel health plays a key role in prevention for mixed dementia. This can also help delay progression symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia.

What Drugs are Used to Treat Mixed Dementia?

The following drugs and medications are related to or used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, and are approved by the FDA for use in patients with Mixed dementia, according to alz.org:

  • Donepezil
  • Galantamine
  • Memantine
  • Rivastigmine

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