Background: In most research studies and clinical trials, Alzheimer disease (AD) has been diagnosed using the criteria developed by the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association work group in 1984. Developments over the last 27 years have lead to the need for new diagnostic criteria.
Review Summary: Four articles in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia in 2011 describe new criteria for AD dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to the AD pathophysiological process (MCI due to AD) and the underlying rationale for them. These new criteria emphasize that the AD pathophysiological process starts years and perhaps decades before clinical symptoms, and that biomarkers can be used to detect amyloid β deposition and the effects of neurodegeneration in the brain.
Conclusions: These new criteria are immediately helpful to the practicing clinician, providing more accurate and specific guidelines for the diagnosis of AD dementia and MCI due to AD. As new diagnostic tools and new treatments for AD become available, diagnosis using these criteria will enable patients with this disorder to receive the best possible care.