People 'frequently misdiagnosed with common types of dementia'

People with two common types of dementia are frequently being misdiagnosed and given inappropriate medicines, experts have said.

There must be greater recognition of the two little-known forms of the condition, according to the professors from King's College London.

The Government's dementia challenge aims to make England a world leader in dementia research but it does not refer specifically to the treatment and diagnosis of Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's dementia, they said.

Most people with Parkinson's disease will eventually end up with the condition and dementia with Lewy Bodies is the second most common form of age-related dementia after Alzheimer's disease - affecting at least one in ten of all people with dementia.

Professor Dag Aarsland and Professor Clive Ballard said that the lack of awareness of these conditions means people with the conditions are frequently misdiagnosed, and patients are often inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs. These can lead to unwanted side-effects, and in some cases can worsen a patient's condition, they added.

"Despite the fact that they are common conditions, Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's dementia are desperately under-researched, and many health professionals and members of the public have never even heard of them," said Professor Aarsland, chair of old age psychiatry at King's College London.

"The symptoms of these disorders can be extremely distressing to patients and their carers, and are often misdiagnosed, which is why we are calling for a specific strategy to address them as part of the UK Government's dementia plan."

Prof Ballard, director of the National Institute for Health Research Dementia Biomedical Research Unit at King's College London, added: "While the UK Government's commitment to tackling dementia is commendable, it's vitally important that the unique challenges of Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's dementia are better recognised and planned for.

"We hope that by improving recognition among researchers, medical professionals, and the public, we can go some way to reducing the problems of misdiagnosis and poor treatment which stem from the poor awareness of these conditions."