Fiona Phillips: What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia and can it be cured?
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TV presenter and columnist Fiona Phillips announced this week she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 62 and is undergoing trials for a revolutionary new drug to hopefully slow or reverse the process. However, many still don’t know what the difference is between the disease and dementia and whether either can be cured.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) ‘dementia and Alzheimer’s disease’ were the leading cause of death in 2022 amongst UK citizens. The disease - which disproportionately affects people aged 65 and older - accounted for 65,967 deaths last year (11.4% of the total) up from 61,250 (10.4%) in 2021.
But how do the diseases differ and can Alzheimer’s go away? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association website: “Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life, while Alzheimer’s is a specific disease. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.”
A Dementia diagnosis encompasses a group of symptoms including memory loss, confusion, problems with language and processing information, and changes in behaviour. Not everyone with dementia suffers from Alzheimer’s but around two out of three people living in the UK do.
Can Alzheimer’s go away?
Unfortunately, when someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it does not go away. However, for the first few years at least - symptoms may come and go and vary in severity.
Can Alzheimer’s be cured?
According to the NHS website, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s but there is medicine available that can temporarily reduce the symptoms.
Some of the medicine’s available to UK patients include…
- Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors: Increases communication between nerve cells in the brain
- Memantine: Blocks the effects of excessive glutamate in the brain, which can cause cells to become overexcited leading to damage and death.