Tests measure certain forms of two proteins – amyloid and tau – that form plaques and tangles in the brain. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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Government and other scientists are proposing a new way to define Alzheimer's disease – basing it on biological signs, such as brain changes, rather than memory loss and other symptoms of dementia used today.Regardless of what tests are used to make the diagnosis, the new definition will have a startling effect: Many more people will be considered to have Alzheimer's, because the biological signs can show up 15 to 20 years before symptoms do.ABOUT ALZHEIMER'SAbout 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common form.About one-third of people over 70 who show no thinking problems actually have brain signs that suggest Alzheimer's, Jack said.Another problem: as many as 30 percent of people enrolled in Alzheimer's studies based on symptoms didn't actually have the disease – they had other forms of dementia or even other medical conditions.
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