TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Diagnosing and treating
Alzheimer's disease early is essential if patients are to benefit
from the medications currently used for this dementia, a new report
However, most people with the condition are diagnosed late in
the progression of the disease, which results in a "treatment gap"
that limits access to information, treatment, care and support,
according to the report released Tuesday by Alzheimer's Disease
International. All this compounds the problems for patients,
families, caregivers, communities and health professionals.
"The most important thing about this report is that it confirms the importance of early diagnosis and that interventions are possible because of it for Alzheimer's and other dementias," said Robert J. Egge, vice president for public policy and advocacy at the Alzheimer's Association.
In the United States, Alzheimer's and other dementia are a
"crisis," he said. "Part of what makes it a crisis is that it is so
under-recognized. One of the places it is not recognized is in the
Many patients go undiagnosed, which means even the limited
treatments available aren't started soon enough, he said. Doctors
need to be aware of dementia and how to diagnose it early, Egge
But there is a worldwide lack of awareness, he noted.
"Failure to diagnose Alzheimer's in a timely manner represents a tragic missed opportunity to improve the quality of life for millions of people," Dr. Daisy Acosta, chair of Alzheimer's Disease International, said in a statement from King's College London. "It only adds to an already massive global health, social and fiscal challenge."
Patients, according to Egge, say one of their biggest problems
is getting their condition recognized. "They feel like they are
adrift too often, with their loved ones trying to care for them
without support," he said.
According to the report:
"Over the past year, the research team has reviewed thousands of scientific studies detailing the impact of early diagnosis and treatment, and we have found evidence to suggest real benefits for patients and caregivers," Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease International, said in the statement.
The report recommends that governments:
"There is no single way to close the treatment gap worldwide," lead report author Dr. Martin Prince, from King's College London Institute of Psychiatry, said in the statement. "What is clear is that every country needs a national dementia strategy that promotes early diagnosis and a continuum of care thereafter. Primary care services, specialist diagnostic and treatment centers and community-based services all have a part to play, but to differing degrees, depending upon resources."
For patients, Egge suggested that people who think they have
dementia "pursue the diagnosis when you see the warning signs of
Alzheimer's or other dementia; seek out care from professionals;
let them know your concerns and pursue this until you get the
answers you need."
For more on Alzheimer's disease, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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