Like in other neurological diseases, there is a hypothesis that early detection
leads to earlier intervention, which leads to better outcomes. This remains a
hypothesis in AD. However, some reasons to consider early
diagnosis...1. Know what you are dealing with. Make sure that it is
dementia vs. another treatable condition (e.g., depression, vitamin deficiency).
Similarly, not all dementias are due to AD. 2. Predict the course and
anticipate symptoms.3. Some clinical trials have found that earlier/milder
cases responded better to treatments (e.g., aricept) than more advanced
cases.4. Save money. Studies have shown financial and social benefits of
earlier diagnosis and treatment.5. Help advance science. Treatment trials
are starting to target the earliest phases of dementia, so earlier
identification can allow willing individuals to participate.Lastly,
there are multiple medications approved by the FDA to treat AD. Admittedly, they
are not designed to stop the disease, but they can slow its progression.
The basic premise of this article seems flawed. Since there is currently no
treatment or cure for Alzheimer's, how could early diagnosis help to slow
the "epidemic"? Quite simple, it doesn't.Early
diagnosis can help the patient and the family address the issue sooner by making
sure that the patient's legal and financial affairs are in order and that
the patient's living conditions are safe, but it's inaccurate to
suggest that it will affect the patient's medical condition.