Early diagnosis may be key in slowing Alzheimer's epidemic

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  • kaja cottonwood heights, UT
    May 20, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    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.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 19, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    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.