Two new studies have revealed that 20 percent of Alzheimer’s cases were misdiagnosed. You’re probably thinking that misdiagnosis is better than actually having the disease. It may be so, but it doesn’t come without any problems. It causes undue stress for the misdiagnosed, and it can even delay treatment for those who are afflicted by the disease.
As of yet, no proven treatment or cure exists for the life-debilitating disease. Still, an early diagnosis is very important since certain drugs can delay its advance and help people prolong their current quality of life. An early diagnosis helps patients and their families prepare of their end-of-life care. Currently, this is one of the best possible scenarios since some cases aren’t even diagnosed.
According to Dean Hartley, the director of the Alzheimer’s Association:
“There are drugs that are beneficial for at least a short amount of time that can be given at a very early stage and possibly boost memory. With a correct diagnosis, people can also be put on a clinical trial to see if new drugs will work.”
There isn’t any blood or imaging test available that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors have to rely mostly on its symptoms, and as it is a complex condition, misdiagnoses tend to happen.
The first study, conducted by a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, discovered that men could be misdiagnosed more often than women. The study revealed that men tend to develop the disease earlier in life, in their 60s rather 70s and 80s compared to women. Another difference is that in men, Alzheimer’s can affect different parts of the brain compared to women, and this leads to different symptoms, such as behavioral or motor problems rather than memory loss. These variables are what causes a misdiagnosis to be more common for men than women.
The other study was conducted by the Keenan Research Center for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada. The researchers analyzed inconsistencies between clinical and autopsy diagnoses. They discovered that among one thousand Alzheimer’s cases in the study, 78 percent were correctly diagnosed by both methods. However, 11 percent of those clinically diagnosed didn’t have the disease while another 11 percent weren’t initially diagnosed but actually had Alzheimer’s.
In both situations of misdiagnosis, the patients had other conditions such as brain atrophy and various types of dementia with symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s.
Were you aware of possible misdiagnosis in Alzheimer’s cases ? Do you know anyone who has been misdiagnosed or is suffering from Alzheimer’s ?
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