A Two- to Three-fold Increase in Alzheimer's Diagnoses?

JULY 13, 2010
In an effort to keep up with a field that has evolved greatly since 1984, experts have drafted reports from three workgroups convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer's Association (AA)—presented yesterday at ICAD10 in Honolulu, HI—to update the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease for the first time in over 25 years. Surviving intact without modification since being established by a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association workgroup in the early 80s, the criteria were sorely in need of change.

The major overhaul proposed by the experts is part of a movement to diagnose and treat the disease earlier, taking advantage of new technology like brain scans for detecting the disease before memory-related and other problems are evident, according to an article in the New York Times.

"Important scientific discoveries have been made in Alzheimer's, and there have been significant changes in our knowledge and conception of the disease," said Creighton H. Phelps, PhD, Director, Alzheimer's Disease Centers Program, Division of Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. "The NIA and the Alzheimer's Association, after consultation with the Alzheimer's scientific and medical community, concluded that the diagnostic criteria may need to be revised to incorporate scientific advances. We decided to convene workgroups to examine the literature and make recommendations."

According to the Timesarticle, experts are predicting that—should the guidelines be adopted in the fall as expected—the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will increase two- to threefold, the result of earlier diagnosis.

Input is still being sought by the NIA and AA for the criteria, so make your voice heard by visiting www.alz.org/research/diagnostic_criteria immediately following ICAD10, which ends tomorrow (7/15).

Check out the ICAD10 press release and New York Timesarticle for more on the proposed criteria.

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