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Dementia in Elderly Outpatients: A Prospective Study

ERIC B. LARSON, M.D., M.P.H.; BURTON V. REIFLER, M.D., M.P.H.; HARVEY J. FEATHERSTONE, M.D., M.P.H.; and DALLAS R. ENGLISH, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by grant 5-R01-MH33841 from the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Larson is a Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Faculty Scholar in General Internal Medicine.

Presented in part at the Society for Research in Primary Care Internal Medicine, May 1983, Washington, D.C. Published in abstract form in Clin Res. 1983;31:642A.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Eric B. Larson, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Medicine RG-20, University of Washington; Seattle, WA 98195.


Seattle, Washington


© 1984 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1984;100(3):417-423. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-100-3-417
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We prospectively studied the evaluation of dementia in 107 unselected outpatients; 83 had so-called "irreversible" dementias, including 74 who had an Alzheimer-type dementia. Fifteen patients had potentially reversible dementias, of which hypothyroidism and drug toxicity were the commonest causes. Distinguishing features of reversible dementia were shorter duration, use of more prescription drugs, and less severe dementia. Almost half of the patients had other previously unrecognized treatable medical diseases. Most diagnoses were made from patient history and physical and mental status examination. Patients with reversible dementia improved but rarely reverted to normal. Objective improvement occurred in 25 patients after treating unrecognized

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