New guidelines released for diagnosing Alzheimer's

April 19, 2011 10:05:21 AM PDT
The first new guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease in nearly 30 years were released today and they differ in two ways from the last recommendations.

First, the disease is defined in three stages: "preclinical" occurs before any symptoms are visible, but, brain changes are already happening; "mild cognitive impairment" when a person's thinking changes enough to be noticeable and full-blown Alzheimer's.

Second, the criteria for diagnosis now incorporates technology, such as blood or spinal fluid and brain scans. It suggests doctors use the tools for research to assess the disease's progress.

More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's, but, the new guidelines can double that number of patients.

The guidelines are in the "Journal of the Alzheimer's Association".