For the first time in 30 years, an expert panel has updated guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimerâ€™s disease. The long overdue facelift should favorably impact care for millions and accelerate badly needed research on the disease.
The guidelines were produced by representatives from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimerâ€™s Association. They portray Alzheimerâ€™s for the first time as a three-stage disease. In addition to â€˜Stage 3,â€™â€”the full-blown clinical syndrome that had been described in earlier versions of the guidelinesâ€”the new guidelines describe an earlier â€˜Stage 2,â€™ of mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimerâ€™s, and a â€˜Stage 1, or preclinicalâ€™ phase of the disease. The latter can only be detected with biochemical marker tests and brain scans.The guidelines legitimize yearsâ€™ worth of observations by the family members of Alzheimerâ€™s patients, who recognize in retrospect that Grandpa had a slowly progressive cognitive disorder longÂ before he was diagnosed. The guidelines also reflect progress on the research front, where it has now been establishedÂ that the disease begins years before patients become symptomatic.
Alzheimerâ€™s patients and their families, and the teetering US health system that supports them, would have been better served by the publication of these guidelines 2-3 years ago. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*