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Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's might have something else

Many older adults in California suffering from memory loss receive an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. According to new research about the causes of dementia, many of them might have a different form of dementia. Many types of neurodegenerative diseases fall under the label of dementia, and the symptoms of limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy typically resemble Alzheimer's. Also referred to as LATE, the brain disease results from misshapen deposits of the protein TDP-43 whereas Alzheimer's arises from buildups of beta-amyloid protein on brain tissue.

Due to the differences, clinical trials for Alzheimer's treatments likely produced poor results because some of the participants actually had LATE instead of Alzheimer's. With the release of a new study about LATE, the lead author said that clinicians needed a better understanding of LATE to avoid misdiagnosing patients with Alzheimer's.

Diagnosing the exact type of dementia troubling a person has often been difficult. Because no cure exists for Alzheimer's, most insurance policies do not pay for the PET scan that can find the protein plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's. Researchers have called for greater awareness of the possibility that people have LATE instead of Alzheimer's. Exploring treatments and cures for both diseases depends upon accurate diagnoses.

Mistakes made during the diagnostics phase of medical care could result in unnecessary or potentially harmful treatments. A patient could also miss the opportunity to receive treatment for the correct disease. When a misdiagnosis occurs because a physician failed to investigate all reasonable possibilities, a claim of medical malpractice might be valid. An attorney who litigates medical cases might ask an independent medical professional to examine a person's medical records. This assessment could produce evidence that medical negligence harmed the person. An attorney might then file a lawsuit to pursue compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

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