Public Release: 

Time to rethink how we diagnose Alzheimer's disease

Symposium to review recent criteria for diagnosis of dementia and additional vulnerabilities of women during the menopause transition

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)

CLEVELAND - (October 3, 2018) -With all the focus on Alzheimer disease in recent years as a result of the aging population, what have we learned? A symposium at The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in San Diego, October 3-6, will not only review conflicting evidence regarding the best way to diagnose the disease, but also the latest thinking on the neurodegeneration that often begins during the menopause transition.

The criteria for the diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimer disease was last updated in 2010. Today, biomarkers (a measurable indicator of the severity or presence of some disease) are often used to help understand the phases of dementia in conjunction with neuropsychological assessments.

Dr. Pauline Maki, a professor of psychiatry, psychology and obstetrics and gynecology, will moderate the symposium at the NAMS 2018 Annual Meeting titled "A Scientific Update on Alzheimer Disease and Women." In addition to summarizing preferred criteria for diagnosing the disease, the symposium will include especially valuable insights for postmenopausal women who, compared to men, are more likely to develop Alzheimer disease during the remainder of their lifetime. It will additionally summarize an impressive body of animal and human research that shows that brain metabolism changes in women after menopause in such a way that it might make them more vulnerable to Alzheimer disease.

"For decades scientists have focused on the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer disease, but clinical trials based on that hypothesis have unfortunately failed. There is a new understanding of why biomarkers are important and how they evolve during the course of Alzheimer disease. Scientists are now trying to prevent Alzheimer disease before the memory symptoms appear and are using biomarkers to determine who needs early prevention," says Dr. Maki. "Understanding biomarkers in Alzheimer disease is important because there is roughly a 20-year separation between menopause and Alzheimer, during which time these biomarkers can indicate which women should be targeted for prevention."

"Although Alzheimer disease is becoming more prevalent as a result of people living longer, it is of particular concern to postmenopausal women who, compared to men, are more likely to be affected," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. "We look forward to hearing the latest scientific evidence on this critical topic."

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Drs. Maki and Pinkerton are available for interviews before the presentation at the Annual Meeting.

Founded in 1989, The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) is North America's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the health and quality of life of all women during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging. Its multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field--including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education--makes NAMS uniquely qualified to serve as the definitive resource for health professionals and the public for accurate, unbiased information about menopause and healthy aging. To learn more about NAMS, visit http://www.menopause.org.

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