“From the first onset of symptoms, we can only tell our patients that they will get worse over time, and eventually, this will lead to death.”

At the American Academy of Neurology's (AAN) 70th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California, NeurologyLive's sister publication MD Mag sat with Gregory Day, MD, MSc, to discuss how, currently, one of the biggest challenges with Alzheimer disease for physicians is diagnosing the condition, and how the opportunities are lessened by an inability to diagnose earlier.

Day, an instructor of neurology and clinical director of the Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation at Washington University of St. Louis, spoke about the insidiousness of Alzheimer disease and how, in recent years, research has revealed a need for a diagnosis much earlier in disease’s progression. Day noted that, unlike a condition such as multiple sclerosis, which can have relapsing and remitting phases, Alzheimer disease is relentlessly progressive—and most likely is the end result of a decades-long process.

Identifying biomarkers of Alzheimer disease early and efficiently, Day said, is not only an exciting realm of the research but could also be the key strategy in preventing the onset of dementia. Their use, he suggested, could be somewhat prophylactic, in a way that he likened to how statins work for patients with heart disease.