Alcoholrelated Dementia

The existence of alcohol-related dementia is complicated by the various syndromes described in individuals who abuse alcohol, as well as other possible comorbidities contributing to cognitive dysfunction in these individuals (vitamin B12 deficiency, subdural hematomas and head injuries, cerebrovascular disease, etc.). Knowledge about whether alcohol abuse may be a risk factor for other dementias is also sparse.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), classification relies on alcohol use to identify alcohol-related dementia, a process that may be subjective or based on limited information. Oslin et al. propose diagnostic criteria following the model used in the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Diseases and Stroke/Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association (NINCDS/ADRDA) criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD). It also uses cutoffs for "heavy drinking" of 28 drinks per week for women and 35 for men. As the authors state, these cutoffs are based on previous surveys of cognitive effects from alcohol rather than strict biological criteria. Furthermore, it acknowledges the possibility that multiple pathologies may be present, and incorporates some neuroimaging details, such as cortical atrophy or atrophy of the cerebellum, especially the cerebellar vermis, into the proposed criteria.

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