New Alzheimer's guidelines define early stages of the disease

Changes in the brain are detectable years before devastating memory loss.

In April 2011, the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association released revised guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), including criteria for spotting the disease before it develops into full-blown dementia. The guidelines also address the experimental use of biomarkers that may help diagnose AD earlier. (A biomarker is a measurable substance or condition in the body that can indicate the presence or absence of a disease.) The revised guidelines and criteria appeared online April 19, 2011, in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia (www.alzheimersanddementia.org/content/ncg).

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