The COVID-19 pandemic has put healthcare at the forefront of Canadians’ minds and many conditions are vying for attention. Following World Alzheimer’s Month, we’d like to highlight the need to continue working on finding ways to support Canadians impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, more than half a million Canadians are living with dementia today - including Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia -, and in 10 years, that number will nearly double.1

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that destroys brain cells.2 It is a progressive brain disease characterised by a decline in memory, language and other thinking skills, as well as changes in mood and behaviour. However, biological changes in the brain can occur even decades before the first symptoms appear. By the late stages of the disease, people are often unable to communicate and become completely reliant on others for even simple day-to-day tasks.3

As a highly complex condition, there is no single test that can tell if a person has Alzheimer’s disease. The diagnosis can take time, and may involve multiple healthcare professionals. Diagnosis is usually made through the systematic elimination of other possible causes.4

The more we learn about biomarkers of AD, the more our understanding of the disease – and how to accurately diagnose and manage it – improves.

While biomarkers to confirm AD pathology are not used routinely by doctors in the clinical setting, as in during the management of their patients, they do play an important role in research.5 Doctors and scientists are excited about the potential impact AD biomarkers could have on improving care for people with AD.6

Unfortunately despite the diagnostic tools and options available, experts have expressed that dementia remains substantially underdiagnosed and is usually diagnosed only in advanced stages.7

An accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is a very important step to ensure the patient receives the right treatment and care. It can empower patients to plan for the future.

Detecting AD early helps both the person living with AD and family members to learn about the disease and set realistic expectations. Early diagnosis allows patients to:8

  1. Know what to expect

  2. Be more actively involved in personal decisions, including healthcare

  3. Use treatments more effectively

  4. Receive more informed support from family

  5. Have an opportunity to help advance research

Roche’s mission in Alzheimer’s disease involves uncovering the brain’s secrets, exploring different factors that play a role in the disease, and further understanding the types of people who develop AD. Our company is committed to the development of better, more accessible diagnostics, therapeutics and more holistic healthcare solutions, targeting the key pathways implicated in the pathophysiology of AD.

Through partnerships, research & scientific excellence, Roche is committed to answering difficult questions in AD. We are committed to co-creating with equally passionate advocates, coalitions and academic, institutional and industry partners. We are interested in ongoing, early collaboration to ensure health system readiness so that patients can receive the most timely and best care possible.

  • 56% of Canadians are concerned about being affected by Alzheimer’s disease.9

  • 46% of Canadians admit they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if that they had dementia.9

  • 87% of caregivers wish that more people understood the realities of caring for someone with dementia.9

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do today to increase awareness and reduce stigma in our communities, visit the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s website:

References:

  1. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Prevalence and Monetary Costs of Dementia in Canada. Retrieved from:

  2. Alzheimer Society. About dementia - What is Alzheimer's disease? 2021. Website:

  3. Alzheimer’s Association. 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2015; 11(3):332+.

  4. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Alzheimer’s Disease: Getting a diagnosis. Retrieved from:

  5. Khoury R, Ghossoub, E. Diagnostic biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease: A state-of-the-art review. Biomark. Neuropsychiatry. 2019;1(100005):1-6.

  6. National Institute on Aging. What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer’s disease? [Internet; cited 2020 June 17]. Available from:

  7. USC Dornsife: Center for Economic and Social Research. Implications of Alzheimer’s Treatement for Organization and Payment of Medical Practices in Canada. Retrieved from:

  8. USC Dornsife: Center for Economic and Social Research. Implications of Alzheimer’s Treatement for Organization and Payment of Medical Practices in Canada. Retrieved from:

  9. Alzheimer Society of Canada. Benefits of early diagnosis. Retrieved from:Alzheimer Society of Canada. 2017 Awareness survey executive summary. 2017. Page 3-4.

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