One out of 10 diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s are associated with other dementias
10% of cases usually result from a mixed hydrocephalus disorder that is reversible
It is estimated that in Spain 10% of dementia sufferers are over 70 years of age, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most frequent. This is a degenerative brain pathology that impairs cognitive abilities, especially memory. There is no cure – at the moment, but there is a treatment that benefits these patients and that delays its evolution.
Dr. Sandra Rodríguez Barceló, Specialist in Neurosurgery and responsible for the Unit of Memory and Cognitive Disorders of the Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia and Torrevieja, stresses the importance of being meticulous in the diagnosis of patients with dementia. It is estimated that 10% of people who are initially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have chronic hydrocephalus associated in adults. 100% of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease would benefit from a multidisciplinary assessment that would reveal the existence of other diseases with a very different prognosis, such as chronic hydrocephalus in adults, for which an effective treatment exists and in some cases are associated with Alzheimer’s.
A differential diagnosis should also be established with those cognitive disorders that appear as a consequence of other diseases, such as strokes, infections or metabolic alterations that have a specific approach and a very different evolution.
The specialists of the Unit of Memory and Cognitive Disorders of Hospital Quirónsalud Murcia intend to provide specialized care to patients with Alzheimer’s disease, establishing guidelines for medical treatment and neurocognitive rehabilitation adjusted to each patient, in order to delay the process and maintain patient independence for as long as possible.
Is it just Alzheimer’s? Should we rule out other diseases?
From a practical point of view, between 10% and 20% of dementias have a reversible cause, including chronic adult hydrocephalus, which may also appear in the course of Alzheimer’s
Hydrocephalus is the excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.
This accumulation causes the spaces of the brain that are called ventricles to dilate producing an inflammation that presses the brain tissue harms it and is usually confused with Alzheimer’s by the similarity of its symptoms.
According to Dr. Rodriguez Barceló, “the good news is that, with timely treatment, its consequences are reversible.” Symptoms of chronic adult hydrocephalus include cognitive impairment and may lead to dementia. As an example of some symptoms we find the problems with walking and incontinence and the general slowness of movement.
Hydrocephalus is a reversible pathology that, with the aid of an early multidisciplinary diagnosis, the affected person can recover. Therefore it is important to take into account the symptoms described above and to go quickly to the specialist in case of noticing changes in a family member.
The treatment of hydrocephalus requires the surgical installation of a bypass system in the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid into the abdomen or heart where it can be absorbed and although the success of this surgical intervention varies from person to person it usually has a success rate, between 50 and 90 percent improvement in the patient’s symptoms, favoring a good quality of life.
Neurorehabilitation, a Key Element in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Patients
An increase in life expectancy and technological and healthcare advances no allow us to survive pathologies that were unthinkable before. This reality is completely changing the social healthcare needs of society, mainly in patient with Alzheimer’s, where neurorehabilitation is a key element to slow cognitive deterioration and increase autonomy for those affected, improving quality of life for them and their family. The Neurorehabilitation Service at Hospital Quirónsalud de Torrevieja offers its patients personalised neurodegenerative pathology stimulation programmes created by a team of specialised professionals, which enable the development of flexible and individual therapeutic objectives with the latest technologies applied to this disease.
Quirónsalud is the largest hospital group in Spain and the third largest in Europe. It is present in 13 autonomous communities has the most advanced technology and has more than 6,200 beds in the 80 centres, like the Jimenez Diaz Foundation, Ruber, Hospital La Luz, University Hospital Quirónsalud Madrid, Teknon, Dexeus, Polyclinic Gipuzkoa, etc., as well as a large team of highly specialized professionals and international prestige.
We work in promoting and teaching (seven of our hospitals are universities) medical and scientific research (we have the Health Research Institute of the FJD, a unique private research centre accredited by the Ministry of Research, Development and Innovation).
In addition, our healthcare service is organized into units and transversal networks to optimize the experience accumulated in the various centers and clinical translation of our investigations. Currently, Quirónsalud is developing more than 1,600 research projects throughout Spain and many of the centers are market leaders in this field, being pioneers in different specialties such as cardiology, endocrinology, gynecology, neurology and oncology, among others.