Wendy Williams Diagnosed With Frontotemporal Dementia and Aphasia


Bruce Willis was diagnosed with the same type of dementia last February.

In a statement released Thursday, the care team for the 59-year-old Williams said that doctors officially confirmed her condition in 2023 after she underwent a “battery of medical tests.”

“Aphasia, a condition affecting language and communication abilities, and frontotemporal dementia, a progressive disorder impacting behavior and cognitive functions, have already presented significant hurdles in Wendy’s life,” her communications group wrote in the press release. “Over the past few years, questions have been raised at times about Wendy’s ability to process information and many have speculated about Wendy’s condition, particularly when she began to lose words, act erratically at times, and have difficulty understanding financial transactions.”

In 2018, Williams raised concerns about her health when she announced that she was taking time off to deal with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes an overproduction of thyroid hormones. During a Halloween episode of her show the year before, Williams fainted on air. Some doctors speculated that her fainting might have been related to her Graves’ disease.

What Causes Frontotemporal Dementia?

While damage to neurons in the brain’s frontal lobes and temporal lobes (near your temples) leads to this type of dementia, the exact cause of the damage is unknown, according to Johns Hopkins.

Researchers have linked types of frontotemporal dementia to mutations of several genes. Stanford Medicine says that, unlike Alzheimer’s disease, FTD usually does not include formation of amyloid plaques.

 In about half of people with FTD, however, there is an abnormal form of tau protein in the brain, and about half of people with FTD have TDP-43 protein accumulation.

A study published in 2018 in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association suggested an association between diabetes, head injury, autoimmune disease, and frontotemporal dementia.

“Unfortunately, we need more research to understand the reason this disease occurs,” says Sharon Sha, MD, the chief of the Stanford Memory Disorders Center in Palo Alto, California.


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