Report: Some Alzheimer’s Patients Not Told By Medical Professionals Of Their Diagnosis

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The Wall Street Journal (3/24, D2, Beck, Subscription Publication) reports that the Alzheimer’s Association says that about 55 percent of people with Alzheimer’s and those who look after them may never have learned from their physician that they have the disease.
Washington Post (3/24, Kunkle) reports that in its annual report, the association found that “medical professionals are much less likely to tell their patients of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than diagnoses of other chronic or incurable diseases such as cancer, often because of a reluctance to inflict emotional distress.” The report, which compared “Medicare records with surveys of both beneficiaries and caregivers, found that doctors and other health care [professionals] give people their diagnosis only about 45 percent of the time.” This compares to a 93 percent disclosure rate “for diagnoses of cancers that affect the breast, colon, rectum, lung or prostate.”
NBC News (3/24, Fox, Silverman) website reports that even though the news of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is “devastating,” the Alzheimer’s Association “is leading a lobbying effort in Washington, DC, later this week to support legislation that would encourage and allow doctors to bill Medicare for time spent counseling not just patients, but also their caregivers.” When patients are still in the earlier stages of the disease, they “can still talk to family members about what type of care they want,” get their affairs in order, and take part in clinical studies.
Also covering the story are the 
San Francisco Chronicle (3/24, Colliver) and US News & World Report (3/24, Leonard).
Study Identifies Tau Protein As Source Of Alzheimer’s-Related Cognitive Decline. Bloomberg News (3/24, Koons) reports that a study from the Mayo Clinic, published Tuesday in the journal Brain, found that “the accumulation of dysfunctional tau protein is the real source of cognitive decline and memory loss seen in Alzheimer’s.” This research, which is based on examinations of 3,600 brains from patients with dementia, comes just days after Biogen’s experimental BIIB037 showed “promising early data.” That medicine, however, focuses “instead on the buildup of different set of protein fragments, called beta amyloid.” But, “the Mayo Clinic study doesn’t discount the idea that beta amyloid may be involved in Alzheimer’s progression.” The study’s “findings may indicate that scientists need to consider multiple approaches and targets, said Dean Hartley, director of science initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association.”

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