Toronto – According to two new studies, Alzheimer’s disease is misdiagnosed in as often as 1 of every 5 cases. In the first survey, adjunct scientist Dr. David Muñoz led a group of researchers from the Keenan Research Center for Biomedical Science at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

The team studied the clinical and autopsy diagnoses of more than one thousand citizens that were listed in the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database. This shed light in inconsistencies of around 22% between the pathological diagnosis and the clinical diagnosis of the disease.

As much as 2 out of 10 patients get mistakenly diagnosed for Alzheimer's disease in the United States. Further restrictions will be introduced to improve people's diagnosis. Image Credit: UPI
As much as 2 out of 10 patients get mistakenly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. Further restrictions will be introduced to improve people’s diagnosis. Image Credit: UPI

In seventy-eight percent of the cases, the diagnosis was correct. However, eleven percent of individuals who had tested ‘negative’ actually had the disease, and other eleven percent, tested ‘positive’ did not have the disease.

This concludes that there is frequent misdiagnosis between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, vascular dementia, brain atrophy or Lewy body dementia. In the second study, Melissa Murray led a group of researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. The research found that the misdiagnosis occurs more often in men than women.

The causes are not still clear, but the team argues it might have something to do since men tend to develop Alzheimer’s disease at a younger age and in a more aggressive form. Another reason is that men apparently develop the disease in brain areas completely different than women.

The symptoms are also different; men have behavioral symptoms more often, also developing motor problems and language difficulty, in contrast with the memory problems of the women. Memory problems are commonly associated with Alzheimer’s and might explain why men are the ones being misdiagnosed.

Why is diagnosis so important?

Alzheimer’s disease does not have yet a cure or even effective treatment; however, being correct diagnosed is vital for a patient. Not only because it can help prepare for last wishes and end-of-life care, but also because some drugs can help preserve a quality of life for a bit more.

“Some drugs are beneficial for at least a short amount of time that can be given at a very early stage and possibly boost memory,” said Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives, medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association. “With a correct diagnosis people can also be put on a clinical trial to see if new drugs will work,” Hartley added.

The biggest issue with the disease’s diagnosis is that there is not 100 percent satisfied. There are no blood tests, for example, the only analysis made based on symptoms.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alzheimer’s Association about 5.4 million people live with Alzheimer’s only in the United States, which makes it the sixth leading cause of death for people age 65 and up.

New Developments

According to research published in the journal Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, medical marijuana could help alleviate Alzheimer’s disease. The study discovered that THC blocks brain inflammation and stimulate the removals of toxic plaque that forms in the brain. This helps relieve the symptoms and ease the life of the patient living with the disease.

This is backed up by a small study that occurred this year when participants with Alzheimer’s claimed the TCH decreased their apathy, irritability, agitation, and aggression.

Another research made in 2014 by Dutch scientists also found that cannabis could be useful as a treatment for dementia.

Sources:  CNN