Rapidly Progressive Dementia: Is it Alzheimer’s or not?

  • Anna Maria Mouzak Consultant Neurologist Department of Neurology General Hospital of Athens Evangelismos- Ophalmiatreion Athinon-Polykliniki 15 Tombazi Street, Glyfada Athens, Greece 16675 Tel. 6944727297, 213-2044147 Fax 213-2044147 e-mail: annamarianeuro@gmail.com
Keywords: Rapidly progressive dementia, Alzheimer’s, VITAMINS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, autoimmune dementias


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic progressive disease, which accounts for 60% of all dementias. Sometimes 10-30% of AD cases have a more fulminant course, but this AD subtype is not the only cause of rapidly progressive dementia (RPD). There exists a variety of entities presenting as RPDs,  a number  of which are reversible or treatable. It is imperative that accurate and prompt diagnosis be made, since it is crucial for neuronal survival. Some of these rapidly progressive manifestations concern vascular, infectious, toxic-metabolic, autoimmune, metastatic-neoplastic, iatrogenic, neurodegenerative or systemic diseases, which can be arranged in a list using the mnemonic  "VITAMINS". This review summarizes the major etiologies of RPDs. Differential diagnostic algorithms are also presented.