Diagnostic Criteria for Alzheimer's Disease from National Institute on Aging; Alzheimer's Association
The National Institute on Aging revised the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease also endorsed by the Alzheimer's Association, published in the May 2011 issue of Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. The introduction and three articles can be accessed at http://www.alz.org/research/diagnostic_criteria/. Drafts of the revised criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD) were initially released for discussion and review at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in July 2010. Similar to the old criteria, the revised are aimed primarily at researchers, to help improve the characterization of research volunteers and set a scientific framework for defining the key elements of the disease process. Nonetheless, just like their predecessors, they are sure to cross over into clinical practice. This is the first major update for Alzheimer's diagnostic criteria since 1984.
Perhaps the most important conceptual change in the criteria is a journey even further into the past, beyond 1984, to a time when the lexicon more clearly separated the clinical state of dementia from the pathological process of Alzheimer's disease. Before the new criteria, the pre-1984 terminology "Dementia of the Alzheimer type," was - if not extinct - certainly close to the brink.
Echoing the old way of thinking, the new criteria lay out broad three phases of AD, 1) Dementia due to AD, 2) Mild Cognitive Impairment due to AD, and 3) Preclinical stages of AD. The role of biomarkers to identify underlying AD pathophysiology increases in importance for the more mild MCI and preclinical phases.
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Amy Reinstein, M.S., CCC - SLP