Alzheimer’s disease is a neurocognitive disorder (either major or minor, depending upon its severity) that has an insidious onset and gradual progression in cognitive impairment.

The specific symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are:

1. The criteria are met for either major neurocognitive disorder or minor neurocognitive disorder.

2. There is insidious onset and gradual progression of impairment in one or more cognitive domains (for major neurocognitive disorder, at least two domains must be impaired).

3. The following criteria are also met.

For major neurocognitive disorder

  • Evidence of a causative Alzheimer’s disease genetic mutation from family history or genetic testing.

  • Clear evidence of decline in memory and learning, and at least one other cognitive domain (based on detailed history or serial neuropsychological testing).
  • Steadily progressive, gradual decline in cognition without extended plateaus.
  • No evidence of mixed etiology.

For minor neurocognitive disorder

  • Evidence of a causative Alzheimer’s disease genetic mutation from family history or genetic testing, or, if no evidence is present, all three of the following:
    • Clear evidence of decline in memory and learning, and at least one other cognitive domain (based on detailed history or serial neuropsychological testing).
    • Steadily progressive, gradual decline in cognition without extended plateaus.
    • No evidence of mixed etiology.

The cognitive deficits each cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.  The course is characterized by gradual onset and continuing cognitive decline. The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium.

The cognitive deficits above are not due to any of the following:

  • other central nervous system conditions that cause progressive deficits in memory and cognition (e.g., cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, subdural hematoma, normal-pressure hydrocephalus, brain tumor)
  • systemic conditions that are known to cause dementia (e.g., hypothyroidism, vitamin B-12 or folic acid deficiency, niacin deficiency, hypercalcemia, neurosyphilis, HIV infection)
  • substance-induced conditions

 

Updated for the DSM-5.