The progression of AD typically spans several stages, and the rate of disease progression varies from person to person. AD starts with a long asymptomatic stage, called preclinical AD, followed by a symptomatic stage before dementia, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which finally evolves to dementia, varying from mild to severe. 4-7
One of the challenges of AD is that today clinical practice limits the definition of the disease to people already suffering from mild, moderate or severe dementia.8
While it is recognized that a person with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is at an increased risk of developing AD, MCI is not currently considered an AD stage. In other words, current clinical practice often does not recognize a person as having AD until the disease has progressed significantly and dementia is evident.8
Therefore, timely diagnosis of AD is an important first step and provides patients and caregivers with an opportunity to help manage the disease and plan for the future.8
While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural consequence of ageing.1,9
Alzheimer’s disease symptoms often start subtly. People with early AD (and their families) may mistake early signs and symptoms for normal ageing and put off going to a doctor.1 Comorbid medical conditions, such as depression or stroke, can also impact cognitive and functional abilities, making an early diagnosis of AD challenging.1,8
As we get older, cognitive abilities start to decline, like nearly every part and function of the human body. However, early changes in cognition, such as an increased forgetfulness, thinking more slowly than usual or difficulty multi-tasking, may be caused by the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and not by normal ageing processes.1-3
Alzheimer’s disease operates out of sight – slowly developing over years to cause injury to the brain.