TUESDAY, April 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Late alcohol abuse may be a telltale symptom of dementia, according to a study published online April 5 in the Alzheimer’s Disease Journal.
Elisa de Paula Franca Resende, MD, Ph.D., of the Hospital das Clínicas da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and her colleagues examined the frequency of alcohol abuse throughout life, late-onset alcohol abuse, and alcohol abuse as a first symptom of dementia in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The analysis included 1,518 people with a clinical diagnosis of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s type dementia and semantic variant primary progressive aphasia.
The researchers found that the frequency of late-onset alcohol abuse was 2.2% and was significantly more common in patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia than with Alzheimer-type dementia (7.5 vs. 1.3%), but no semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (4.4%). . Alcohol abuse as the first symptom of dementia was more common in patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia than in Alzheimer’s type dementia (5.7 versus 0.7%), but not in aphasia primary progressive to semantic variant (2.2%).
“Alcohol abuse later in life should prompt clinical investigation into the possibility of an underlying neurodegenerative process, as delay in diagnosis and treatment may increase patient and caregiver burden,” write the authors.