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Q. How is Alzheimer's Diagnosed?

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Updated: May 25, 2006

A.

A dementia such as Alzheimer's disease is difficult to diagnose. A number of diagnostic tests are carried out to see what is wrong with a patient who seems to be presenting with signs and symptoms of dementia.

At the present time an autopsy is the only test that can confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. The autopsy will show the typical signs of cerebral shrinkage and destruction of brain cells.

Images of the brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is therefore often diagnosed by a process of elimination. Your family doctor, or specialist neurologist or gerontologist, and their multidisciplinary teams include information from such things as:

  • A thorough medical history of the patient and their family history.
  • An assessment of the person’s mental and physical state.
  • Psychological assessment and testing.
  • A neurological examination and assessment.
  • Lab tests and brain scans.
    Once a diagnosis is made it has it is usually 80% to 90% accurate. An autopsy is the only way it which the diagnosis can be confirmed.

    Further information about diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease

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