New Alzheimer's Disease Criteria

Scientists now define three stages of Alzheimer's disease

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(RxWiki News) For the first time in almost 30 years, the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease has changed. The original criteria for Alzheimer's disease only included the later stage of the disease, dementia, when symptoms are already present.

Today's new Alzheimer's guidelines include the earliest preclinical stages of the disease and a middle stage, those with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). The third stage in Alzheimer's is now dementia, which includes a decline in cognition.

"New guidelines will help patients and accelerate Alzheimer's research."

William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer’s Association excitedly reports that the publication of these new guidelines is a major milestone for the field. The association's vision is earlier recognition which will result in improved diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Thies believes these new diagnostic standards will possibly double patients classified with Alzheimer's Disease. Biomarker tests are in place to ensure a proper diagnosis.

Dr. Theis also added their desire to drive research which will ultimately enable them to detect and treat the disease earlier and more effectively. Ultimately, the associations want all diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease to live full, rich lives with minimum or no symptom's of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Mayo Clinic John Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School led the National Institute of Aging's panel to define this new preclinical stage not yet included in Alzheimer's Disease diagnosis.

In Depth

  • The first stage is preclinical where amyloid buildup is presenting and detectable by positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Cerebrospinal fluid is also analyzed
  • The second stage is the Mild Cognitive Impairment stage (MCI) when patient's initial memory loss begins. Researchers want to standardize biomarkers for amyloid in the brain. People diagnosed with MCI do not always progress into the third stage
  • Using imaging and biomarkers in blood and spinal fluid are included in the disease diagnosis
Last Updated:
April 21, 2011