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Unusual form of dementia more common than previously believed

News: Jun 17, 2015

Frontotemporal dementia has been regarded as an unusual disease that primarily afflicts people in their 50s. Recent studies at Sahlgrenska Academy, however, indicate that almost one out of every thirty person above the age of 80 have frontotemporal dementia.

A doctoral thesis at the Centre for Ageing and Health (AgeCap), Sahlgrenska Academy and the University of Gothenburg, examined the occurrence of the risk factors that can lead to frontotemporal dementia.

As opposed to previous belief, the studies showed that the disease is common also late in life.

Long-term studies

Based on the long-term H70 population studies in Gothenburg, the thesis concluded that approximately one out of every thirty person older than 80 years has frontotemporal dementia. Furthermore, mortality is higher than for other forms of dementia.

Alcohol abuse a risk factor

Among the risk factors identified by the researchers are previous alcohol abuse, stroke, head trauma and hypothyroidism.

“Behavioural changes caused by frontotemporal dementia can be devastating, often leading to divorce and institutionalisation,” Thorsteinn Gislason says. “But doctors frequently fail to diagnose the disease. Given that it requires a different kind of treatment than other forms of dementia, such oversights are serious.”

The findings suggest that doctors should be more observant regarding symptoms of frontotemporal dementia in the elderly.

Dr Gislason defended Frontotemporal dementia in late life: Prevalence, risk factors and mortality on June 5.

Link to thesis

Frontotemporal dementia affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which controls planning, social behaviour, emotions and empathy. The primary symptoms are abnormal behaviour, lack of judgement and poorer empathetic ability. The disease is difficult to treat, nearly always requiring 24-hour care and specially adapted housing.

For additional information, feel free to contact:
Thorsteinn Gislason, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg

Ingmar Skoog, Professor, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Director of AgeCap, University of Gothenburg


Originally published on: sahlgrenska.gu.se

Page Manager: Katarina Englund|Last update: 3/7/2012

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