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New Alzheimer's Disease Survey Reveals Disparities Between Beliefs and Behavior in Pursuing Diagnosis

Results Indicate the Need for Adults Age 55 and Over to Know the Signs of Alzheimer's and Take Immediate Action Once Symptoms are Suspected

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite overwhelming support for early Alzheimer's disease (AD) screening and detection, there are striking differences between intentions and actual behavior, according to a new online survey of 1,040 adults age 55 and over titled, "Alzheimer's Disease: Current Attitudes, Perceptions and Knowledge." Nearly 95 percent agree that they would encourage a loved one to seek early diagnosis upon suspecting signs of AD. However, of the 34 percent who previously thought a loved one had the disease, only about one-quarter prompted that person to take an AD screener and less than 40 percent encouraged initiating a conversation with his or her doctor.

The survey also found that more than 90 percent of adults age 55 and over are unable to identify the difference between early disease symptoms, late disease symptoms and symptoms unrelated to AD, despite the fact that 78 percent believe they could recognize signs of the disease in themselves or a loved one.

The online survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG), a consortium of multi-disciplinary experts in AD and senior health. The ADSDG issued a consensus statement in November 2007, recommending routine memory screenings for Americans 65 years of age and older and encouraging increased public education about AD. This year, the group commissioned this national survey as a next step to better understand public perceptions, attitudes and knowledge about the disease, screening and diagnosis. Both the survey and the ADSDG were sponsored by Eisai Inc. and Pfizer Inc.

"Last year the Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group encouraged seniors to become more familiar with the first signs of Alzheimer's in order to facilitate earlier screening and diagnosis," said Dr. Richard Stefanacci, founding executive director, Geriatric Health Program, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, survey co-chair and member of the ADSDG. "This new survey shows us that close friends and relatives are not encouraging their loved ones to take action, and perhaps that's because they're not confident in their ability to identify Alzheimer's symptoms. The unfortunate result is that many patients may not get diagnosed until the disease is in its later stages."

In support of this theory, another key survey finding was that while the majority of adults age 55 and over recognize that family members of the person with AD are most likely to notice the need for screening, many admit they are not very knowledgeable about the disease, and are confused about its symptoms. Moreover, nearly one-third of those surveyed are not aware that there are AD medications currently available and about 85 percent of those who are aware do not understand how treatment works.

"There are many reasons to seek out an Alzheimer's diagnosis soon after first symptoms are suspected," said Dr. Paul R. Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in neuroscience, Williams College; clinical director, The Memory Clinic in Bennington, VT; and survey co-chair and member of the ADSDG. "Not only are there treatments that can slow the progression of symptoms, but an early diagnosis also gives the patient and their loved ones more time to adjust to the news and make important decisions together before the disease advances, impacting the patients' ability to interact and function."

These survey results are particularly important given the rise of AD as the baby boomer population ages -- up to 16 million are estimated to have the disease by 2050. The ADSDG encourages everyone with a loved one age 55 and over to visit to learn more about the disease, its signs and symptoms, and complete an online memory screener on behalf of a loved one if symptoms are suspected. Key differences between early signs of disease and normal aging include:

Normal Aging Potential Signs of AD

Forgetting names of Forgetting the names of

people you rarely see people close to you

Briefly forgetting part Forgetting a recent

of an experience experience

Occasionally misplacing Not being able to

something find important things

Mood changes due to an Having unpredictable

appropriate cause mood changes

Changes in your interests Decreased interest in

outside activities

About the Alzheimer's Disease Screening Discussion Group (ADSDG)

The ADSDG is a multi-disciplinary panel of experts sponsored by Eisai/Pfizer Inc and first convened in November 2007 to debate the value of AD detection and routine screening. ADSDG members include:

-- Dr. Paul R. Solomon, professor, department of psychology and program in

neuroscience, Williams College, MA; clinical director, The Memory

Clinic, Bennington, VT; and survey co-chair

-- Dr. Richard Stefanacci, founding executive director, Geriatric Health

Program, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, survey co-chair

-- Dr. Barry W. Rovner, director, clinical Alzheimer's disease

research at the Farber Institute for Neurosciences, and professor of

psychiatry and neurology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia

-- Dr. Yanira Cruz, president and CEO, National Hispanic Council on Aging

-- Gail Hunt, president and CEO, National Alliance for Caregiving

-- Janet Farr, Alzheimer's disease Caregiver

About Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. It is a progressive brain disease currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. More than five million Americans currently have AD. Approximately 50 percent of Alzheimer's disease patients in the United States are diagnosed and only half of the patients who are diagnosed receive treatment that can slow the progression of AD symptoms.

Alzheimer's disease gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. People with Alzheimer's disease experience difficulties in memory severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life. While there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, there are treatments to help slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease.

About the Survey

This AD survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Eisai/Pfizer between May 12 and June 4, 2008 among 1,040 U.S. adults age 55 and over. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

About Eisai Inc.

Eisai Inc. is a U.S. pharmaceutical subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: neurology, gastrointestinal disorders and oncology/critical care. Established in 1995 and ranked among the top-20 U.S. pharmaceutical companies (based on retail sales), Eisai Inc. began marketing its first product in the United States in 1997 and has rapidly grown to become an integrated pharmaceutical business with fiscal year 2007 (year ended March 31, 2008) sales of approximately $3 billion, including the results of the acquisition of MGI PHARMA, Inc.

Eisai Inc. employs approximately 1,800 people at its headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, at its state-of-the-art pharmaceutical production and formulation research and development facility in Research Triangle Park, NC, and in the field. For more information about Eisai, please visit

About Pfizer Inc

Founded in 1849, Pfizer is the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company. Pfizer is taking new approaches to advancing better health as it discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. Pfizer also partners with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to medicines and to provide better quality health care and health system support. At Pfizer, more than 85,000 colleagues in more than 90 countries work every day to help people stay happier and healthier longer and to reduce the human and economic burden of disease worldwide. For more information visit

About Harris Interactive(R)

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit

SOURCE Alzheimer?s Disease Screening Discussion Group
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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