Time to Redefine Alzheimer's Disease

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Daily news stories abound with coverage of new treatments and diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease.  Many include controversial musings about the value of measuring risks or "predicting" future diagnoses.  Most of these discussions are poorly informed, and further limited in their usefulness by a lack of agreement about the definition of Alzheimer's disease.  After all, detecting the disease "early" is a relative concept, completely dependent on your definition of when it begins.

As we wrote earlier in a post about when Alzheimer's disease really begins, there are wide disparities in the opinions of scientists, clinicians, patients, and journalists.  The scientists look at pathological changes prior to symtoms, the clinicians adhere to a strict definition that includes severe symptoms, patients define it's onset in accordance with minor symptoms, and journalists, often unaware of these nuances, frequently muddy the waters with inadvertent generalizations.

There is strong rationale, in terms of promoting proactive healthcare and enabling an aggressive research agenda to develop better treatments, in favor of universally adopting a definition based on known pathological changes that occur early in the disease process. Doing so would peg the start of the disease at an early time, prior to the development of clinical symptoms.  This approach, with which we agree, is highlighted in a clear and objective report from NPR today.

No comments :

Post a Comment