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Living with Dementia

Diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s Disease

  • - Dementia News
  • Aug 21, 2011
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Tags: | agnosia | alzheimer's disease | american psychiatric association | aphasia |

A number of criteria-based approaches to the diagnosis of AD have been developed. The three most commonly used are:

  * International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10)
  * Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM IV)
  * National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke ­ Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Association workgroup (NINCDS-ADRDA)

Each of these classifications specifies particular criteria that must be satisfied in order to
confirm a diagnosis of AD. The NINCDS-ADRDA criteria take a slightly different approach to the ICD-10 and DSM IV classification systems. The NINCDS-ADRDA approach

  * Defines the diagnosis of AD as ‘possible’, ‘probable’, or ‘definite’
  * Allows a diagnosis of probable or possible AD during the lifetime of the patient

Loss of memory (inability to learn new and recall old information)

Difficulties in one or more of the following:

  * Language (aphasia)
  * Purposeful action (apraxia)
  * Recognition (agnosia)
  * Executive function

Progressive decline in cognition

No gait difficulties in the early stages

Table 7. Clinical features of Alzheimer’s disease (adapted from DSM IV, 1994. Reprinted with permission from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Copyright 1994, American Psychiatric Association

Other dementias

Other dementias that occur less frequently include vascular dementia, Lewy body disease and Pick’s disease. These dementias can be more difficult to diagnose and patients suspected of suffering from these forms of dementia should be sent for specialist referral.

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