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Men who have dementia are more at risk of being misdiagnosed compared to women, research has revealed. The research could help to explain why past statistics have indicated that women are more likely to develop the condition.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida presented the results at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2016 in Toronto today (Tuesday 26 July).
Scientists examined the post-mortem results and clinical records of 1,606 people in the State of Florida brain bank, that had been confirmed as having Alzheimer’s disease after death.
The results revealed that men were more likely to have experienced typical symptoms such as difficulty with speech and movement, while the area of the brain involved in memory was more likely to be spared in men than women.
Research manager at Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Clare Walton, commented: “An accurate and timely diagnosis of dementia is essential to enable people to live well for as long as possible. If one in five people are living with a wrong diagnosis, they might not have access to treatments that can provide welcome relief from some of their symptoms.
“Alzheimer’s was first identified in a woman in the early 1900s but these results suggest there are important differences in how the disease affects men and women. More research is needed to understand how much mis-diagnosis in men contributes to the observation that nearly two thirds of people living with dementia in the UK are women.”
Researchers also revealed that the age of the onset of Alzheimer disease varied between men and women, however, they witnessed a spike in the number of cases in men in their 60s compared to women, with the number of cases increasing in women in their 70s and older.
A further study revealed inconsistencies between a person’s clinical diagnosis when alive and the pathological changes in the brain at post-mortem.
Comparing the clinical and post-mortem records of 1,073 people from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Centre database, researchers reported a correct diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease had only been made 78 per cent of the time.
They revealed that in nearly 11 per cent of cases, Alzheimer’s disease had not been correctly diagnosed. Similarly, almost 11 per cent of cases were considered to be ‘false positives’, meaning they had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease while alive, but this was not backed-up by the results of a post-mortem.
Of the cases recorded as being ‘false positives’, 30 per cent had brain changes consistent with vascular dementia, 12 per cent were consistent with the symptoms of Lewy body dementia, nine per cent with frontotemporal dementia and 15 per cent had mixed types of dementia.