Cognitive tests don't differentiate between Alzheimer's, vascular dementia, study finds

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Less than 2% of the most common neuropsychological tests can differentiate between Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, according to a recently published report.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide compared the accuracy of 118 diagnostic tests to determine which, if any, were best at characterizing Alzheimer's disease from vascular dementia. The tests were performed in 81 previous studies involving more than 7,000 seniors with dementia. Only two—Delayed Story Recall and the Emotional Recognition Task—showed any ability to distinguish between either group.

Though cognitive tests can certainly help diagnose dementia, accurately identifying a patient's specific type of dementia is key to effectively treating that condition, report authors say. Doctors should combine such tests with brain scans, medical histories and other tools, researchers suggest. The report appears in the July issue of the journal Neuropsychology.
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