New York: According to the World Health Organization, worldwide there were around 36 million people with dementia in 2010, and this number is expected to double by 2030, and more than triple by 2050.
About 70% of dementia cases are Alzheimer’s – a brain-wasting disease caused by loss of brain cells that become damaged when faulty proteins accumulate inside and around them. As the behavioral and cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease overlap with other forms of dementia, clinicians and researchers are faced with real challenges when it comes to making a reliable differential diagnosis – especially in the early stages.
In 2005, an international group of neurologists redefined a set of diagnostic criteria for identifying patients with Alzheimer’s. Until then, it had been necessary to wait for patients to die before establishing a diagnosis by autopsy. The most that could be done for living patients was to estimate the probability of them having Alzheimer’s, and then only in the late stages of the disease, which was decided based on severity of dementia.