NEWPORT BEACH — For the first time in decades, doctors believe that early diagnosis may help delay the onset of Alzheimer's Disease in some patients, local health experts said.
The change was brought on by this week's announcement that the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer's Assn. have published new guidelines for diagnosing the disease — the first revised set in 27 years.
The new guidelines recognize an earlier stage, a change in the memory called mild cognitive impairment, which in many patients is linked to the later development of dementia that occurs 7 to 22 years earlier than previously recognized, said Dr. William Shankle, program director for Memory & Cognitive Disorders at Hoag Hospital's Neurosciences Institute.
"I think that the big message is now that we can now more accurately diagnose and identify those who have the disease, the potential for treatment is real," Shankle said. "It really makes sense now more than ever to have your memory checked annually after you're 50 years old."