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On Short Cuts: The Complexity of Studying the Early Diagnosis and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Abstract

Although the risk factors, biomarkers, and medications for Alzheimer’s disease appear to be almost identical in both 1993 and 2013, some major differences in the conceptualization of the disease can be detected in this time period, especially the more recent trend towards prevention. While some preventive practices (such as brain training) and the search for early signs and biomarkers (such as APOEε4) have existed for a long time, the recent broadening of scope to include cardiovascular risk factors and their prevention, paired with pre-symptomatic detection of disease-specific biomarkers, has considerably impacted the conventional understanding of this syndrome and the possibilities for pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions. A first reflection on ‘short cuts’ shows the difficulty of critically analysing the complex changes in the understanding of dementia.

Keywords

  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Vascular Dementia
  • Cerebral Spinal Fluid
  • Dementia Research

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Acknowledgments

The first part of this article is based on a text published as ‘The earlier the better—Alzheimer’s prevention, early detection, and the quest for pharmacological interventions’, in Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry, 38 (2014), 2, 217–236. I am grateful for the permission to reuse this text, given by CM&P editor Woody Gaines and by Teresa Krauss from Springer.

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Leibing, A. (2016). On Short Cuts: The Complexity of Studying the Early Diagnosis and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease. In: Boenink, M., van Lente, H., Moors, E. (eds) Emerging Technologies for Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease. Health, Technology and Society. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-54097-3_3

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