EARLY DETECTION & DIAGNOSIS

Identifying the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is
key to better patient care.1,6

What is Mild Cognitive Impairment due to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is one of the earliest signs of the disease. This is the first stage when symptoms become apparent to individuals living with AD, their loved ones and their doctors.1,4 These early warning signs can include short-term memory loss, difficulty finding words, and/or losing track of the day or date. Other symptoms of MCI may include a decline in other thinking skills, such as the ability to make sound decisions or to judge the time and steps required to complete a task.1,4

These symptoms may indicate early stage Alzheimer’s disease – but they can be overlooked or dismissed as just part of getting older. Many general practitioners need more training and better tools to identify these early symptoms of AD, which may be difficult to differentiate from other conditions such as clinical depression or symptoms of a mild stroke.5

What are the symptoms of MCI due to AD?

Memory

Being increasingly forgetful, i.e. having trouble remembering recent conversations, names or important events1,4

Attention

Losing train of thought, finding difficult to stay focused or feeling increasingly overwhelmed1,4

Language

Having trouble finding the right words1,4

Disorientation

Feeling confused about time and place, i.e. losing track of day or date; having trouble finding your way around familiar environments1,4

Thinking Skills

Having problems with planning, reasoning or completing tasks, i.e. managing money, or cooking a familiar recipe1,4

Mood & Personality

Changes in mood and personality, i.e. becoming irritable, anxious or low in mood1,4

How is MCI due to AD diagnosed?

General Practitioners (GPs) or Primary Care Providers (PCPs) are often the first point of contact for people having problems with memory or another mental function. Core elements of the diagnostic process include:1,5

  • Documentation of the patient’s medical history including current symptoms and past medical conditions as well as the family history1,5
  • Assessment of daily activities to detect changes in the patient’s usual level of function. Detection tools, like questionnaire, will be used and a family member or trusted friend can as well be asked to provide additional perspective1,5
  • Physical check-up and laboratory tests including blood test to rule out reversible causes of cognitive decline1,5

GPs/PCPs can then refer patients to a memory clinic, neurologists or other specialists for further tests. The earlier MCI due to AD is detected, the sooner a patient can be referred for testing to confirm a diagnosis of AD.6

LEARN MORE ABOUT SUPPORT AFTER DIAGNOSIS

What are the benefits of a timely and accurate diagnosis of AD?

A timely and accurate diagnosis of AD may bring several benefits to all people involved in this process:6

  • Patients, their loved ones and their doctors can take action for better disease management, including management of specific symptoms such as anxiety or impaired sleep, or lifestyle interventions, like changes in diet, exercise and social engagement7,8
  • It can reduce fears for people living with early-stage AD and help them prepare for the future6

 WHAT'S NEXT 

Brain Health

A healthy diet, regular exercise, social interactions and mental stimulation may help preserve brain health and cognitive functions.

 

References

1.Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s Association Report: 2020 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s Dement. 2020;16(3):391-460.

2.Morris JC, Blennow K, Froelich L, et al. Harmonized diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s disease: recommendations. J Intern Med. 2014;275(3):204-213.

3.Petersen RC. Mild cognitive impairment. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2016;22(2):404-418.

4.Alzheimer’s Association: Mild Cognitive Impairment, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment. Accessed December 11, 2020.

5.Wilkinson D, et al (2004). The Role of General Practitioners in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease: A multinational Survey. Int Med Res. Mar-Apr 2004; 32 (2): 149-159.

6.Dubois B, Padovani A, Scheltens P, et al. Timely Diagnosis for Alzheimer's Disease: A Literature Review on Benefits and Challenges. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;49(3):617-31.

7.Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia. WHO Guidelines. https://www.who.int/mental_health/neurology/dementia/guidelines_risk_reduction/en/. Accessed December 11, 2020.

8.Livingston G, Huntley J, Sommerlad A, et al. Dementia prevention, intervention, and care: 2020 report of the Lancet Commission. Lancet. 2020 Aug 8;396(10248):413-446. Epub 2020 Jul 30.