New guidelines issued for diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease

Three groups of experts worked for two years to develop new diagnostic criteria and guidelines for earlier detection of Alzheimer's disease. They're the first guidelines issued since 1984. The announcement and overview can be found on the Alzheimer's Association site.

The new guidelines establish a framework for developing, identifying and using biomarkers for early diagnosis. They also provide more information for diagnosing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which occurs before serious symptoms of Alzheimer's appear.

People with MCI experience a decline in memory, reasoning or visual perception that's measurable and noticeable to themselves or to others, but not severe enough to be diagnosed as Alzheimer's or another dementia. The new guidelines formalize an emerging consensus that everyone who eventually develops Alzheimer's experiences this stage of minimal but detectable impairment, even though it's not currently diagnosed in most people. However, not everyone with with MCI eventually develops Alzheimer’s, because MCI may also occur for other reasons. The guidelines designate the condition of minimal impairment preceding Alzheimer’s as “MCI due to Alzheimer’s disease,” and define four levels of certainty for arriving at this diagnosis.

In a review of the guidelines on MedicalNewsToday.com, William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association was quoted the guidelines wouldn't change much in how physicians diagnose and treat people with Alzheimer's.

"...the new criteria are really extending the range of our ability to investigate this disease and eventually to find treatments that will be so necessary to avoid the epidemic of Alzheimer's that we see facing us."

Tagged: Health beat, Alzheimer's disease

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