Local experts in the treatment of Alzhiemer’s Disease and other dementia-related illnesses are hoping to bust the myth among the Vincentian population that only “old people” can be affected, as persons in their 40s and 50s are also being diagnosed.
This and other information was revealed during a panel discussion on VC3’s RoundTable Talk program, held as part of the activities for National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month celebrated during the month of November.
Registrar of Psychiatry, Dr Karen Providence, said while there is a lack of concrete statistical evidence to confirm that Alzheimer’s Disease is the most prevalent of dementia illnesses in SVG, anecdotal evidence as well as global trends would support this claim.
“What might be happening in [the SVG] situation is that we are not having sufficient people screened so people would simply not be diagnosed. I think we have the same ratios of dementia … in our context we are not screening enough, so we are not diagnosing enough and that is one of the things we are hoping to change.”
Dr Glenna Brewster-Glasgow, who practices in Georgia, US, confirmed that the younger demographic is not to be counted out when it comes to screening and testing for dementia-related illnesses.
“I know people in their 40’s who have been diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s disease and are living with dementia. We definitely see people who are younger and living with dementia.”
Dr Providence explained that vascular dementia, a form of dementia caused by conditions that damage blood vessels in the brain, accounts for about 20 per cent of all dementias and illnesses such diabetes and hypertension can contribute to early-onset dementia.
“If there is a 40-year-old who has diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and they have a stroke, depending on the size of that stroke, the type of treatment they can have… if that is not good, they are very likely to develop vascular dementia.”
She added, for SVG, with the high number of people affected by lifestyle diseases, vascular dementia can become evident in younger persons.
“This may be high in our population because of … high blood pressure, hypertension and diabetes and people come in with a combination of these things. I have had clients in St Vincent who as early as their late 50’s presented with severe symptoms of dementia.”