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Dementia can be categorized in many different ways. These categories are designed to group disorders that have particular features in common, such as whether or not they are progressive and which parts of the brain are affected.
Some types of dementia fit into more than one of these categories. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is considered to be both progressive and cortical dementia. Here are some of the most commonly used groupings and their associated symptoms.
This term refers to a disease process that primarily affects the neurons of the brain’s outer layer (cortex), Cortical dementias tend to cause problems with:
This type of dementia affects parts of the brain below the cortex. Subcortical dementia tends to cause:
As the name implies, this is a type of dementia that gets worse over time. It gradually interferes with cognitive abilities like thinking, remembering, and reasoning skills.
This is dementia that does not result from any other disease.
This is dementia that occurs as the result of a physical disease or injury. One common cause could be a head injury.
Even for a given type of dementia, symptoms can vary from patient to patient and they are usually progressive over time. For example, the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are often described in phases, representing the ongoing, degenerative nature of the disease.
In addition to memory loss, early clinical symptoms will likely include:
As the disease spreads to more regions of the brain, additional clinical symptoms may include:
At this point, plaques and tangles (the hallmarks of AD) can be seen in the brain when looked at using an imaging technique called MRI. This is the final stage of AD, and symptoms may include:
Written by: Wendy Leonard, MPH
Medically reviewed on: Oct 06, 2014: Kenneth R. Hirsch, MD
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