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Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with your memory, thinking, logical reasoning, and behavior. It is the most common form of dementia, with as many as 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that attack’s the brain’s nerve cells (neurons), and results in memory loss, behavioral changes, and loss of thinking and language skills. The neurons in your brain are all interconnected, and they fire every few seconds to give off a charge which keeps your brain active. In Alzheimer’s disease, these neurons get tangled up and clogged with sticky protein plaques to the point that they can no longer fire a charge. When a neuron cannot function properly, it dies out. As more and more neurons die out, those areas of the brain wear down resulting in lost memory and functioning. This is typically a very slow process, one that takes years for the condition to fully develop.

For detailed information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.

Lewy Body Dementia

Lewy body dementia is a condition that closely resembles two other conditions, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because of its similarity to these other more common diseases, Lewy body dementia oftentimes goes undiagnosed by medical providers who may be unfamiliar with the condition. Lewy body dementia is also difficult to diagnose because the symptoms present themselves differently in each person. In order to receive a clear diagnosis, individuals should be seen by medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of dementias.

To learn more about Lewy body dementia, please visit the Lewy Body Dementia Association’s website.

Lewy Body Dementia Association Research Center of Excellence

Lewy Body RCOE logoUNC Neurology has been named a LBDA Research Center of Excellence (RCOE) by the Lewy Body Dementia Association (LBDA), the leading advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness and advancing research about Lewy body dementia (LBD). Coordinated by Mayo Clinic, this collaboration features 25 preeminent academic medical research centers across the United States.

The LBDA RCOE program provides a centralized, coordinated research resource, supporting an expanded effort in conducting clinical trials related to LBD while helping to provide expert clinical care for patients, families and caregivers.


Lewy body dementia community education and support facilitator, Pat Snyder, has created a YouTube channel with short, informative videos on a variety of topics for caregivers of patients with Lewy body dementia.

Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia, also known as Pick’s disease, is a rare form of dementia that is very similar to Alzheimer’s disease except that it only affects certain areas of the brain. Individuals with frontotemporal dementia have an abnormally high amount of a protein called “tau” in the brain. This protein is found in all nerve cells, but scientists are still searching for the cause of the abnormal quantities that develop in some individuals. Frontotemporal dementia is very rare and usually affects individuals between ages 40 to 60.

This is a progressive disease that slowly worsens over time. The disease gets its name because the tau protein only affects the frontal lobes and temporal lobes of the brain.


Individuals with frontotemporal dementia struggle with higher level reasoning, expressive language, speech perception and memory formation as these areas of the brain begin to shrink over time.

More information on symptoms, causes and treatment may be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.

Vascular Dementia

Vascular dementia is a broad term describing problems with reasoning, judgment and memory that is caused by impaired blood flow to the brain. For example, you can develop vascular dementia after a stroke blocks an artery in your brain, or when other condition damage your blood vessels and reduce circulation. Factors that increase your risk of heart disease and stroke such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol also increase your risk of developing vascular dementia.

More information on symptoms, causes and treatment may be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website.