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Clinical differentiation of Lewy body disease (LBD) from Alzheimer disease (AD) is still problematic. Many persons with LBD lack the cardinal features of visual hallucinations, fluctuations in cognition, and mild Parkinsonism proposed by McKeith et al. (2005). Some studies suggest that history or presence of depression may help distinguish LBD from AD, but this is confounded because many clinically diagnosed LBD patients have significant co-morbid AD pathology and vice versa (Ranginwala et al., 2008). We aimed to clarify whether history or symptoms of depression differentiate LBD from AD, in autopsy-confirmed patients, excluding patients with mixed AD and LBD pathology.
Objective: This study compared medical history and findings on initial clinical examination in Native Americans diagnosed with possible or probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) at Native American satellite clinics of the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Center with those of Whites diagnosed with probable AD at the UT Southwestern Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Clinic. Methods: The information reviewed was contained in the database of the UT Southwestern Alzheimer's Disease Center. Results: In relation to Whites, Native Americans had slightly but significantly greater age at onset of symptoms (71.7 vs. 69.6 years, t = −2.08, p = .04) and equivalent cognitive scores at evaluation (Mini-Mental State Exam score = 17.4 vs. 18.5, t = 0.98, p = .33), despite significantly lower educational level (11.4 vs. 13.4 years, t = 5.63, p < .001). Native Americans were more frequently depressed on examination (22.8% vs. 9.5%, χ2 = 12, p = .001) and reported diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease significantly more often than did Whites (p < .01 for all), but their survival time after AD diagnosis was similar to that of Whites despite these comorbidities. Conclusions: With the exception of a greater prevalence of depression and cardiovascular risk factors in Native Americans than in Whites, Native Americans had a course of illness similar to that of Whites.
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