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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease
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Related Conditions

Dementia is not a single disease, but a set of symptoms and signs related to multiple diseases or brain injuries. There can be a lot of overlap between movement disorders and other conditions associated with dementia. These are some of the related dementia conditions with resources linked for further information.

 


Vascular Dementia 

In this form of dementia, changes in thinking or memory are caused by damage to the blood vessels of the brain. The damage develops due to reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, which can be caused by a variety of conditions, such as stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Vascular dementia is often preventable – lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, weight management, and blood pressure control may help prevent or control vascular dementia.  


Rapidly Progressing Dementias

Rapidly progressing dementias progress quickly, over the course of months to a few years. They can be caused by neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal lobar degeneration), prion diseases (such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD), infections, autoimmune conditions, and cancer. A thorough evaluation by a neurologist is paramount, as some of these conditions may be treatable. 


Parkinson's Disease Dementia

This form of dementia occurs in persons with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) may have trouble with their memory, judgement, and other thinking abilities. They may also experience hallucinations and sleep disturbance. PDD is caused by the build-up of the abnormal protein called alpha synuclein. This protein is also implicated in Lewy Body disease, and the symptoms may overlap. Some Alzheimer’s medications may help treat the symptoms of PDD. 


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neuromuscular disease that affects the brain and spinal cord cells that control movement. Eventually, individuals with ALS lose the ability to voluntarily move their muscles. Some people with ALS develop symptoms of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). In many cases, the bvFTD symptoms present first, and then the symptoms of ALS develop. 

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