The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association have released new diagnostic criteria and guidelines for Alzheimer’s Disease. The new guidelines update and broaden the widely used guidelines originally published in 1984. Three expert workgroups spearheaded by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association published the 4 articles that constitute the new guidelines, which includes ready-to-use clinical diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s Disease dementia and mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer’s.

The guidelines expand the definition of Alzheimer’s Disease to include two new phases of the disease: 1) pre-symptomatic and 2) mildly symptomatic but pre-dementia, and retains 3) dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. The new identified phases reflect current thinking that Alzheimer’s Disease begins creating changes in the brain years before memory symptoms become noticed.

William Thies, Ph.D., Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, states:

It is our hope that incorporating scientific knowledge gained and technological advances made over the past quarter century will improve current diagnosis, bring the field closer to earlier detection and treatment, and ultimately lead to effective disease-modifying therapies.

In addition, the new criteria give us powerful tools to accelerate our knowledge in the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease. They give us guidelines for getting a more accurate assessment of Alzheimer’s prevalence. In that way we can better assess the need for everything from research dollars to care services, to patient and caregiver education materials, to nursing home beds, to the number of gerontologists and nurses that we need. And, they give us the basis for creating the next generation of Alzheimer’s treatments that will be effective in each stage of the disease.

The new guidelines may be downloaded in pdf format here:

Clifford R. Jack Jr., et al. “Introduction to the Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association Workgroups on Diagnostic Guidelines for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Guy M. McKhann and David S. Knopman, et al. “The Diagnosis of Dementia Due to Alzheimer’s Disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association Workgroup.”

Marilyn S. Albert, et al. “The Diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment Due to Alzheimer’s Disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer’s Association Workgroup.”

Reisa A. Sperling, et al. “Toward Defining the Preclinical Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association Workgroup.”

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