By: Kecia Lilly

We’ve mentioned in the past how Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a default diagnosis. What this means is, seniors are only diagnosed with AD when their cause of dementia can be nothing else. This is why research is so pivotal and why many centers are dedicating studies to this disease. 70% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimers, but (as this article suggests) there may be subdivisions of that disease as well.

What is Hippocampal Sparing Alzheimer’s Disease?

According to Mayo Clinic researchers, Hippocampal Sparing Alzheimer’s (HSP) is a subtype of AD and researchers have reason to believe that 11% of AD patients suffer from this.

As its name suggests the hippocampus is spared. At first glance, this appears to be a great thing as the hippocampus is responsible for core functions – like long-term memory, for example. However, this is not the case and part of the reason this is a growing concern is because people with HSP are being misdiagnosed and thereby receive improper treatment.

What are the symptoms of HSP?

HSP Alzheimer’s Disease does not cause memory problems and that is why it is frequently misdiagnosed.

The main symptoms of HSP Alzheimer’s Disease are behavioral problems that include heated outbursts, visual disturbances – similar to sundowning – and, perhaps the most bizarre symptom, some have felt that their limbs and body parts do not belong to them.

Another unfortunate side-effect is the fact that people with HSP Alzheimer’s Disease suffer at a much earlier age than those with the dominant form of Alzheimer’s Disease and, to make matters worse, their condition worsens faster than those with AD.

It’s data like this that makes is so crucial for us to pursue more efforts into AD research since people with HSP Alzheimer’s aren’t getting the proper treatment early enough or fast enough as those with standard AD. In addition, most are misdiagnosed as frontotemporal dementia as their memories are intact, but they exhibit the behavioral problems above.

What Can Be Done?

Spreading the awareness of this form of Alzheimer’s is crucial as it’s clear that it exists, but not everyone understands that we ought to be looking for it.

The study was conducted with a group of 1800 seniors diagnosed with AD and 11% had these distinctly different problems. As memory loss is usually the main indicator for diagnosing Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia), the fact that this form spares the long-term memory means that the current available ad medication will work in HSP’s favor!

Dr. Melissa Murray, assistant professor of neuroscience at Mayo Clinic (Florida), stated that the current drugs prescribed to those suffering AD would benefit people with HSP Alzheimer’s even more.

The current challenge is that people start suffering earlier (late 50s) and the symptoms worsen quicker.

While many doctors are heeding this research, if your elderly parent is showing symptoms but is diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, definitely bring Hippocampal Sparing Alzheimer’s Disease (HSP) up. It could greatly help your elder’s condition.