Patient Characteristics and Outcomes Associated with Receiving an Earlier Versus Later Diagnosis of Probable Alzheimer's Disease

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Nov 14 2018;61(1):295-307


Effectiveness of Alzheimer's disease (AD) treatments may depend critically on the timeliness of intervention.


To compare characteristics and outcomes of patients diagnosed with probable AD (prAD) based on time elapsed from first onset of cognitive decline.


Patients with ≥1 prAD diagnosis and ≥1 follow-up visit were selected from the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center (NACC) Uniform Data Set (UDS; 9/2005-6/2015) and stratified based on the time between the perceived onset of cognitive decline at baseline and first prAD diagnosis (i.e., earlier versus later diagnosis). Characteristics at baseline and prAD diagnosis, clinically meaningful progression, and medication use following prAD diagnosis were compared.


Median time from perceived onset of cognitive decline to prAD diagnosis was 4.5 years (earlier diagnosis: ≤3.46; later diagnosis: >5.71). Earlier-diagnosed patients (n = 1,476) were younger at baseline (74.3 versus 76.3 years) and had better cognitive and functional scores than later-diagnosed patients (n = 1,474). At first prAD diagnosis, earlier-diagnosed patients had lower mean global Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) score (0.8 versus 1.1), higher mean Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) (22.6 versus 20.0), and lower mean Functional Activities Questionnaire (11.6 versus 17.3). Earlier- and later-diagnosed patients experienced similar time to a decrease of ≥3 points in MMSE (median 23.2 versus 23.1 months, p = 0.83), but earlier-diagnosed patients had longer time to a CDR score of ≥2 points, and longer times to initiation of AD medication and antipsychotic agents (all p < 0.01).>


Earlier prAD diagnosis in NACC data is associated with higher cognitive function and lower functional impairment at diagnosis.

View abstract


Kirson NY, Scott Andrews J, Desai U, King SB, Schonfeld S, Birnbaum HG, Ball DE, Kahle-Wrobleski K