Pathophysiology

The majority of cases of dementia in the United States are due to Alzheimer's disease, with estimates up to 70 percent. Alzheimer's is a neurodegenerative disorder of unknown etiology. Pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease is complex, with a reduction of neurons in the cerebral cortex as well as increased amyloid deposition into plaques and the production of neurofibrillary tangles. Other neurodegenerative diseases have their own unique pathology.

Vascular dementia accounts for the next largest number of individuals with dementia, with estimates of 10 to 20 percent. The pathology is that of cerebrovascular disease with multiple infarctions.

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