Even though the diagnosis of Alzheimer's is more devastating than MCI, it's important for patients and their families to hear the truth, so that they can come to terms with the diagnosis and make the necessary plans, Morris said.
"When we think the MCI is caused by underlying Alzheimer's disease, we should go ahead and call it very early Alzheimer's," Morris said. "It's artificial to call it MCI."
According to background information in the article, 30 percent to 60 percent of doctors conceal an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis because of causing distress to the family and the patient, even though 94 percent of the same doctors would reveal a diagnosis of terminal cancer.
Dr. Gayatri Devi, an attending neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that as a result of the new criteria, "large numbers of patients will be classified as having mild cognitive impairment when in fact they're suffering from Alzheimer's disease."
"This complicates research in the area, and confuses patients and families, not to mention physicians, who've relied on functional independence as the demarcation between Alzheimer's disease and MCI," Devi said.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on Alzheimer's.
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