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Dementia 

Dementia
Chapter:
Dementia
Author(s):

Bart Sheehan

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0628
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date: 25 February 2021

Dementia is a clinical syndrome, not a specific disease. It is characterized by impairment of mental functions leading to memory loss, behavioural changes, and impairment in the activities of daily living. It may be caused by several different diseases, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. There are other potentially treatable causes, including depression, which must be excluded. Drug treatment with cholinesterase inhibitors may reduce the progression of dementia for a period, especially in Alzheimer’s disease. Antipsychotic drugs should be used with great care. The associated impairment and behavioural problems often requires social care, sometimes in institutions, and will place an increasing burden on medical services and society.

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