Study Finds High Misdiagnosis Rate of Alzheimer's, Especially in Men

Missed disease identification seems more likely in men, who may develop cognitive issues earlier
Missed disease identification seems more likely in men, who may develop cognitive issues earlier

HealthDay News — Alzheimer's disease is often misdiagnosed, possibly more so in men, two new studies reveal. The results of both studies were presented at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 22 to 28 in Toronto.

In the first study, a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, led by Melissa Murray, PhD, found that men may be misdiagnosed more often than women. This study included information from the State of Florida brain bank. The researchers examined 1,606 brains of Alzheimer's patients ranging in age from 37 to 102.

One reason for a higher rate of misdiagnosis in men may be that men in the study seemed to develop Alzheimer's at a younger age than women and had a more aggressive form of the disease. Men tended to develop Alzheimer's in their 60s, while women developed it in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, Murray told HealthDay. Men also seemed to have different disease-related brain pathology than women. This may account for the misdiagnosis among men, because their symptoms can be different than those of women, Murray said. She added that men's symptoms may be behavioral, or there may be language difficulty or motor problems instead of the memory problems usually associated with Alzheimer's.

In the second study, researchers from the Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto looked at inconsistencies between clinical and autopsy diagnoses in 1,073 individuals listed in the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center database. The team found that 78.4% of the patients had a correct diagnosis in the clinic, which was later confirmed in an autopsy of the brain. However, 10.8% of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the clinic didn't have the disease. And, another 10.8% who weren't diagnosed with Alzheimer's actually had the disease.

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