Dementia and Alzheimer's disease - Part 1: Evaluation and diagnosis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dementia is a clinical syndrome with many causes, and the primary care physician plays an essential role in its early detection. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia, but AD often occurs along with vascular disease or in the presence of diffuse Lewy bodies. While the diagnosis of AD cannot be made with 100% confidence until autopsy, the clinical diagnosis of dementia of the Alzheimer's type is highly accurate and is based heavily on the history of presenting symptoms. The clinical progression of AD is slow, often occurring over a decade or longer. Determining the cause of dementia is important in order to offer a realistic prognosis to the patient and family and to refine therapeutic options. Given the ever expanding population of elderly in our society, the increased understanding of the pathophysiologic processes underlying dementia and the therapeutic targets they afford, and insight into the newly defined entity of mild cognitive impairment, diagnosing dementia in the earliest possible stages becomes critical and is certainly within the purview of the primary care clinician. This article, the first in a 2-part series, reviews the current recommendations for diagnosing and evaluating patients with Alzheimer's disease. Part 2 will review the standards of care for these patients once such a diagnosis is made.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-306
Number of pages10
JournalAdvanced Studies in Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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