Problems with memory?  It may not be dementia

Problems with memory? It may not be dementia

Dementia is responsible for many people’s memory problems. However, it is possible that in some cases it was misdiagnosed when the problem lay elsewhere.

It is difficult to fight dementia because it is not one specific disease, but a set of symptoms related to the loss of cognitive functions. With age, the probability of getting sick increases dramatically, and memory problems also affect people in their prime. However, recent research shows that some cases of dementia may be misdiagnosed and the real problem is the liver.

It doesn’t have to be dementia. Tests indicate serious liver disease

A study appeared in the scientific journal Jama Network which indicates that not everyone patients diagnosed with dementia actually suffer from this disease. A study of United States war veterans showed that up to 10% of patientswho have been diagnosed with dementia may actually have another disease – hepatic encephalopathy (HE).

It is neurological disorder syndrome causing the central nervous system to function incorrectly. Hepatic encephalopathy is often caused by the effects of toxins, including alcohol or certain medications. HE means that in the later stages the liver is unable to perform its work, which may result in the accumulation of toxins in the body, which will also reach the brain.

Flowchart of patients diagnosed with dementia and fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) across the enterprise data warehouse (CDW) and 2 validation cohorts
Photo JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(1):e2353965. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.53965

The good news is that hepatic encephalopathy can be cured. Initially, using agents that help remove ammonia and other toxins accumulating in the intestines. In later cases of the disease, a liver transplant may be necessary.

It is worth explaining where doctors’ mistakes may come from. Hepatic encephalopathy is difficult to diagnose, with most symptoms including changes in mood, behavior, and distraction Memory problems can easily be attributed to dementia.

American scientists analyzed the test results of over 175,000 people diagnosed with dementia. It turned out that 10% of them had a FIB-4 score above 3.25. FIB-4 is a biochemical indicator used to predict liver damage and is based on liver blood results and the patient’s age. This suggests that people with high FIB-4 scores may actually have liver disease and it is HE that is causing the symptoms, not dementia.

The researchers then confirmed these findings by looking at a separate group of people who were tested for dementia in hospital and found similar results, with 9% having a high FIB-4 score and potential cirrhosis.

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