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Why is Alzheimer’s disease hard to diagnose?

Doctors cannot diagnose Alzheimer's disease (AD) in living people from any single lab test, scan, or exam. They can only definitively identify the disease from brain-tissue samples after death.

Instead, healthcare providers compile results from a variety of sources to reach a diagnosis. With current methods, healthcare providers can diagnose AD with 90% accuracy.

After completing all exams and tests, a healthcare provider will likely provide one of two diagnoses if evidence of the disease exists:
  • Probable AD indicates symptoms are probably due to AD and not some other disorder.
  • Possible AD indicates symptoms may be due to AD, but one or more other disorders may contribute to symptoms as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.