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Different forms of dementia

Alzheimer’s disease

This is the most common cause of dementia. During the course of the disease, the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, leading to the death of brain cells.

Vascular dementia

If the oxygen supply to the brain fails, brain cells may die. The symptoms of vascular dementia can occur either suddenly, following a stroke, or over time, through a series of small strokes.

Dementia with Lewy bodies

This form of dementia gets its name from tiny spherical structures that develop inside nerve cells. Their presence in the brain leads to the degeneration of brain tissue.

Fronto-temporal dementia

In fronto-temporal dementia, damage is usually focused in the front part of the brain. Personality and behaviour are initially more affected than memory.

Korsakoff’s syndrome

Kirsakoff’s syndrome is a brain disorder that is usually associated with heavy drinking over a long period. Although it is not strictly speaking a dementia, people with the condition experience loss of short term memory.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Prions are infectious agents that attack the central nervous system and then invade the brain, causing dementia. The best-known prion disease is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD

HIV-related cognitive impairment

People with HIV and AIDS sometimes develop cognitive impairment, particularly in the later stages of their illness.

Mild cognitive impairment

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a relatively recent term, used to describe people who have some problems with their memory but do not actually have dementia

Rarer causes of dementia

There are many other rarer causes of dementia, including progressive supranuclear palsy and Binswanger’s disease. People with multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease can also be at an increased risk of developing dementia.