Rates of an aggressive type of dementia suffered by talk show host Wendy Williams are expected to rise almost 75 per cent in Britain in the coming years.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) causes parts of the brain to shrink over time.

Patients typically experience changes in their mood, becoming more aggressive, as well as struggling with their memory.

The disease can also lead to aphasia, causing someone difficulty with their speech and language. 

Both Williams, and recently Die Hard star Bruce Willis, have suffered with aphasia as a result of their FTD battle. 

MailOnline analysis suggests the number of FTD patients in the UK could rise above 55,000 by 2050 a 75 per cent rise compared to estimates for today

MailOnline analysis suggests the number of FTD patients in the UK could rise above 55,000 by 2050 a 75 per cent rise compared to estimates for today

Wendy Williams was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia, her care team revealed on Thursday; seen in February 2020 in NYC

Wendy Williams was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia, her care team revealed on Thursday; seen in February 2020 in NYC

The diagnosis is the same as that suffered by Die Hard star Bruce Willis, 68

The diagnosis is the same as that suffered by Die Hard star Bruce Willis, 68 

Experts claim most FTD patients have to enter full-time care just three to five years after their initial diagnosis, with the disease progressing rapidly.

Another unusual aspect of this still poorly understood dementia subtype is how it typically strikes people much younger than typical.  

One in 30 dementia patients in the UK have FTD, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

This is roughly equivalent to about 31,000 Brits currently living with the disease but doesn’t include those who might be in the early stages undiagnosed.

But MailOnline analysis suggests this figure could rise to 55,000 by 2050, according to current projections for dementia patients overall.

An estimated 1.6million Brits will be living with all forms of dementia by this time, up from about 900,000 today. 

It means the number of Brits living with FTD will have increased 75 per cent from the current total. 

The majority of these FTD cases will be unusually young for dementia patients, with most patients with the condition between the ages of 45 and 64.

FTD is considered by experts to be the leading cause of ‘young-onset’ dementia where the disorder develops before the age of 65. 

Experts warn this can frequently lead to a delayed diagnosis for FTD sufferers, with many medics not suspecting younger patients could have the condition.

Some wrongly attribute the classic symptoms to other potential causes like stress or depression. 

As the disease progresses, more and more areas of the brain deteriorate.

This is when symptoms become similar to those in late-stage Alzheimer’s, including difficulty eating or swallowing, needing assistance to walk and being vulnerable to infections.

Similar to Alzheimer’s, FTD is thought to be caused by an abnormal build-up of proteins around nerve cells that eventually lead to them to die.

Scientists are still trying to unpick what triggers this protein build-up in the first place, but it is suspected many cases are linked to our genes. 

As many as one third of FTD patients are thought to inherit the genes responsible for the condition directly from their parents.

Others are thought to have minor genetic quirks that slightly increase their risk of developing FTD. 

Like other forms of dementia, getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet are considered by experts as the best ways to help ward off the condition. 

In the US FTD accounts for about one in 20 dementia cases, equating to roughly 50,000 to 60,000 Americans. 

95 per cent of right-handed people and two-thirds of left-handed people use the left side of the frontal and temporal lobes of their brains to process speech. The remaining one-third of left-handed people are right-brain dominant. When there is damage to this portion of the brain speech and language suffers

95 per cent of right-handed people and two-thirds of left-handed people use the left side of the frontal and temporal lobes of their brains to process speech. The remaining one-third of left-handed people are right-brain dominant. When there is damage to this portion of the brain speech and language suffers

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain), which impact memory, thinking and behaviour. 

Common symptoms include memory loss, poor judgment, confusion, repeating questions, difficulty communicating, taking longer to complete normal daily tasks, acting impulsively, and mobility issues. 

Alzheimer’s disease still accounts for the lion’s share of dementia cases, responsible for about 60 per cent of the total. 

FTD, like other forms of dementia, is incurable and will eventually kill a patient as the condition progresses to affect more and more areas of the brain impacting body functions, for example swallowing. 

Experts have warned that Britain, like many developed countries, is facing a dementia timebomb as cases rise in line with an ageing older population.

In October, scientists warned the UK ‘needs to be prepared’ for the increased burden to ensure dementia patients, no matter their financial circumstances, get the care they need. 

Dementia is overall estimated to currently cost the UK £34.7 billion each year, though this is predicted to increase to £94.1 billion according to charity Alzheimer’s Society.

These costs are mix of NHS care and treatment, social care, and the unpaid care provided by family members. 

WHAT IS FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) affects the lobes of the brain behind the forehead, which deal with behaviour, problem-solving, planning and emotions.

The left temporal lobe is involved in the meaning of words and the names of objects.

The right recognises faces and familiar objects.

FTD occurs when nerve cells in these lobes die and the pathways that connect them change.

Symptoms are different from just the memory loss that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

These may include:

  • Personality changes, such as becoming tactless, uninterested in others and unsympathetic
  • Repeated and compulsive movements, such as continued use of certain phrases, hoarding and obsession over timekeeping 
  • Craving unhealthy food and forgetting table manners 
  • Speaking difficulties, including slow speech, grammatical errors and asking the meaning of familiar words like ‘bread’

FTD is rare, making up less than five per cent of all dementia cases.

However, it is one of the most common forms of the disease in people under 65.

Sufferers are usually aged between 45 and 65 at diagnosis.

The rate at which FTD progresses varies greatly, with life expectancies ranging from two years to more than 10 after diagnosis.

As it progresses and more of the brain becomes damaged, symptoms often become similar to those in the late stage of Alzheimer’s.

These may include memory loss and patients relying on others to care for them.

Around 10-to-20 per cent of FTD patients also have a motor disorder that affects their movement. 

This can lead to twitching, stiffness, slowed movement and loss of balance or co-ordination. 

In later stages, such patients may have difficulty swallowing. 

Around one-third of FTD patients have a family history of dementia.

And the condition is often caused by an inherited faulty gene from one of a patient’s parents.

Treatment focuses on helping a person live well by easing their symptoms. 

This may include counselling or a speech and language therapist.

Source: Alzheimer’s Society

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