Alzheimer's Guidelines Updated After 27 Years

For the first time in almost 30 years, doctors have a new set of guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. The update was developed by a group of leading Alzheimer's experts, put together by the National Institutes of Health. [audio:|artists=Lhee|titles=alzguidelines]

The new recommendations update the 1984 guidelines, which only recognize the last stage of Alzheimer's, characterized by severe dementia and memory loss.

Using those standards, doctors can make diagnoses based solely on patients’ symptoms.

But now, scientists can use brain scans and run blood tests to detect Alzheimer’s in its earliest stage, before symptoms start to show up. The new diagnostic guidelines take that into account.

Hunt Potter is a researcher at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of South Florida. He said early diagnoses will help scientists develop better treatments.

"They will allow us to design those drugs, not just to help the late stage of the disease, but to try to focus on the very earliest stages of the disease, where drugs might be more effective," Potter said.

The new diagnostic recommendations were published last month in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. [ | FPR Spot]