November 04, 2012

Alzheimer's Disease and Vascular Dementia

April 8th 1906:

The day of Auguste D's death in 1906 was not mentioned by Alzheimer, but rather by two unnamed colleagues who wrote the following report in her medical records that day:

April 8, 1906:

"During the morning exitus letalis; cause of death: septicaemia due to decubitus; anatomical diagnosis: moderate hydrocephalus (external internal); cerebral atrophy; arteriosclerosis of the small cerebral vessels; pneumonia of both inferior lobes; nephritis.”

The Incomplete Handbook of Psychiatry:

In his original presentation, Alzheimer discussed Auguste D’s cognitive impairment and reported that, on post mortem, he had found plaques, tangles and arteriosclerotic changes in her brain.  However, his description of arteriosclerosis was not mentioned in Kraepelin’s announcement of “Alzheimer’s Disease” a few years later in his "Handbook of Psychiatry." 

The reason for this is not known, though it is speculated that Kraepelin wished to focus on the novel aspects of Alzheimer's findings, namely the plaques and tangles. Nevertheless, Alzheimer's original case presentation highlights the fact that Vascular Dementia and Alzheimers Disease are closely related, and can frequently overlap.

In our next update we will look at further evidence supporting a link between Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. 

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