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 is that the first clinical stage of the disease, called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's Disease, is very often not recognised.8-10 Why is that? This may be due to the difficulty in differentiating early AD symptoms from normal ageing. The first signs of AD are sometimes misinterpreted as being due to normal ageing, with the result that people delay going to a doctor. In addition, certain comorbid conditions, such as depression, hearing impairment, or hypertension, can also impact cognitive and functional abilities, adding to the complexity of making a timely AD diagnosis.8,12
Mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease is thus often underdiagnosed and overlooked. This means that an AD diagnosis often occurs late in the disease course after it has advanced significantly and dementia may be evident.8-10
Timely diagnosis of AD is an important first step that provides people with early signs and symptoms the opportunity to plan for the future and better prepare for living with the disease together with their care partners.
While age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease is not a natural consequence of ageing.1,11 Factors influencing AD development are:12-19
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 causing damage to the brain.