Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Diagnostics for Alzheimer's Could Have Significant Impact

A CNN report published this morning says medical doctors are considering a new way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, and if the new guidelines go into effect, the number of those found to have the memory-impairment disease could double or even triple.

The advances that Alzheimer's research has seen since 1984 include the recognition of changes in the brain driven by Alzheimer's - but also that some people don't show symptoms of dementia even though they have these brain changes, the Alzheimer's Association said. Also, scientists did not have a good understanding of non-Alzheimer's dementia in 1984; today, there is greater knowledge of other kinds of dementia.

The article also provides a link to a Web site outlining the new guidelines under consideration and asking for feedback.

The New York Times also wrote about the new scanning system and its potential impact. Currently, doctors look for signs of plaque on the brain to confirm an earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Doctors do not wait for a brain autopsy to diagnose Alzheimer’s. They use memory tests and evaluations of patients’ reasoning and ability to care for themselves. Yet with autopsy, even doctors at leading medical centers have been wrong as often as 20 percent of the time: people they said had Alzheimer’s did not have plaque.

CNN Article: How Alzheimer's Gets Diagnosed May Change
New York Times Article: New Scan May Spot Alzheimer's