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Diagnosis and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

George T. Grossberg, MD

Published: July 1, 2003

Article Abstract

The defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is cognitive impairment, but commonly this impairment is accompanied by mood and behavioral symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, inappropriate behavior, sleep disturbance, psychosis, and agitation. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are not normative to the aging process. Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in the majority of cases can be made with confidence through office-based clinical assessment and informant interview. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common of the dementing disorders and is exponentially increasing in incidence, projected to affect 8.64 million people in the United States by the year 2047. At present, no treatment can prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease, and the fact that Alzheimer’s affects a geriatric population makes treatment all the more challenging. Therapies that could delay onset of symptoms even briefly would have a major impact on public health. As the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease increases, researchers are examining the efficacy of treatment options beyond the realm of the established cholinesterase inhibitors.

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