A comparative analysis of neurological, neuropsychological and imaging characteristics of patients with vascular dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Sharon Marie Gordon (1993)

The accurate diagnosis of dementia in the elderly is an increasingly important medical and social problem. Alzheimer's disease and vascular disorders are the most common causes of dementia, yet the differentiation between the two presents many problems because of the similarity of symptoms. Previous neurobehavioral research indicates that differential diagnosis between Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia depends upon a variety of measures such as neurological examination, neuroimaging techniques and neuropsychological assessment. Accurate diagnosis is critical because of the possibility of effective treatment strategies for those patients suffering from dementia of a vascular origin. This retrospective study addressed the clinical, neuropsychological, and neuroradiologic characteristics that distinguish probable vascular dementia from Alzheimer's type dementia. Results showed that although overall performance on neuropsychological measures did not differentiate among the groups, a factor analysis indicated that Alzheimer and vascular dementia patients loaded on different factors. The Alzheimer and possible vascular dementia groups loaded most heavily on a verbal factor, while the probable vascular dementia group loaded most heavily on a perceptual factor. Neurological and neuroimaging results were consistent with those found in other studies. The study concludes with suggestions for future research.