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Thousands of people suffering from a reversible brain condition may be languishing in care homes because they have been wrongly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
About 20,000 Britons are thought to have normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH), a condition caused by fluid becoming trapped on the brain.
Richard - Edwards - Consultant - Neurosurgeon - Bristol
Richard Edwards, a consultant neurosurgeon from Bristol, said that doctors often mistake the illness for dementia, which has similar symptoms.
Dementia is usually caused by irreversible changes in the brain, but that triggered by NPH can be treated by surgery to drain the excess amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that builds up deep inside the brain.
Mr - Edwards - Patients - Improvements - Procedure
Mr Edwards said some patients have experienced ‘jaw-dropping’ improvements after the procedure, yet misdiagnosis meant the £8,000 operation is being used far too infrequently.
As well as memory loss and disorientation – symptoms also associated with dementia – NPH can cause a loss of balance and a slow, shuffling walk ‘as if your feet are stuck to the floor’. As a result, it is often spotted by podiatrists rather than GPs.
Mr - Edwards - Patients - Dementia - GP
One of Mr Edwards’s patients was diagnosed with dementia but asked his GP about NPH when his wife searched his symptoms on the internet...
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