New guidelines proposed for Alzheimer's diagnosis

New guidelines have been proposed on how to diagnose Alzheimer's disease in hope that the changes would lead to earlier detection and treatment.

Since 1984, people with Alzheimer's have been diagnosed after having steadily progressing dementia, which manifests itself in memory loss. However, researchers believe the disease is present years before symptoms appear.

Under the new guidelines, doctors will use brains scans, MRIs and spinal taps to diagnose the disease much earlier.

There are currently more than $5 million Americans, including about $50,000 Long Islanders, living with Alzheimer's. If the new guidelines are approved, experts say the number of cases will at least double.

There is a concern that patients who would be labeled as having a pre-Alzheimer's condition would be denied health insurance.

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