WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- A draft proposal that would update the diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease for the first time in 25 years has just been presented to Alzheimer's experts.
The key change would put more focus on the various stages of the condition, according to the drafts from three workgroups convened by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association.
While these criteria are still in use, experts say the field has changed a great deal since they were created in 1984.
"These changes are inevitable, given the forward movement of the scientific knowledge regarding Alzheimer's -- how it develops, how it progresses and how it impacts the patient," said Dr. Martin Goldstein, director of the department of neurology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Developing methods to identify Alzheimer's in its first stages is essential to the early diagnosis of the disease, he added. This can also lead to new treatments.
"The proposals would change the 1984 criteria by better reflecting the various stages of the disease and the inclusion of Alzheimer's disease biomarkers," William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association, said in a news release from the organization.
"While the role of biomarkers differs in each of the three stages, much remains to be understood concerning their reliability and validity in diagnosis. This makes it critical that we thoroughly test any new recommendations," Thies added.
The proposed changes were presented Tuesday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010, in Honolulu.
Among the reasons the criteria need to be updated is the new understanding that Alzheimer's starts years before symptoms are apparent, experts said. The earlier the disease can be identified, the better are the chances to sl
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