Mixed dementia has characteristics of more than one cause of dementia, most commonly both Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. In this case, the brain will show a combination of blood vessel problems related to vascular dementia with the abnormal protein accumulation associated with Alzheimer's. Additionally, Alzheimer's disease can occur in combination with Lewy body dementia, or a combination of all three.
Researchers don't know exactly how many older adults currently diagnosed with a specific type of dementia actually have mixed dementia, but autopsy studies indicate that the condition may be significantly more common than previously realized. Autopsy studies play a key role in shedding light on mixed dementia because scientists can't yet measure most dementia-related brain changes in living individuals.
The concept of mixed dementia is clinically important because the combination of two or more diseases may have a greater impact on the brain than any on its own.
- May follow a pattern similar to either Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia or a combination of the three.
- Some experts recommend suspecting mixed dementia whenever a person has both evidence of cardiovascular disease and dementia symptoms that get worse slowly.
Maintaining a lifelong heart-healthy lifestyle could help prevent mixed dementia. It may also help delay or prevent progression of symptoms in older adults.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association.