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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Alzheimer's Biomarkers: Overview of existing and future biomarkers. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Overview and Diagnostic Approaches

Unfortunately, a definitive diagnosis of AD cannot be made until after death when a microscopic examination of brain tissue can be made. Currently, there is no single definitive diagnostic test that can be used to determine if an individual has AD. The diagnosis is typically performed by exclusion or using other tests to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. A variety of approaches and tests are employed to make the diagnosis and include one or more of the following:
  • Medical History: A review of a patient’s medical history is performed to include psychiatric history, cognitive and behavioral changes, current and past illness, medication usage, and family member conditions including dementia.
  • Mental Status Exams: An evaluation of memory, simple problem solving, and other mental skills are performed. Specially designed mental skills exams are typically performed to assess cognitive skills.
  • Physical Exam: A general physical and neurological exam is performed to determine reflexes, coordination, muscle tone and strength, eye movement, speech, and sensation.