Strategies to Assess and Subtype Cognitive Decline Patients

Doctors analyzing patient's x-rays for cognitive decline

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia worldwide, and the number of patients is expected to triple by 2050.1 To date, there are few single treatments, pharmaceutical or otherwise, that can help with this degenerative condition. Using a systems biology approach, you can assess patients for mild cognitive decline (MCI) and early AD, stratify them based on the likely causes of their dysfunction, and apply a multimodal protocol to individualize treatments for each patient that address the appropriate underlying causes. In this way, you can arrest cognitive decline and in many cases even reverse it.

The discovery that there appear to be different subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease should come as little surprise: much of what we lump together under the banner of a particular disease is actually a collection of very distinct etiologies (e.g., “cancer”). Equally unsurprising, then, is the finding that different treatments are required to address the various subtypes.

For example, Dale Bredesen, MD, has identified an Alzheimer’s subtype associated with toxic exposures.2 This subtype, labeled type 3 or cortical Alzheimer’s, typically develops early, when patients are in their late 40s to early 60s.2,3 It usually appears after anesthesia, menopause, andropause, or a period of extreme stress or sleep loss.2 Instead of having problems forming short-term memories, type 3 patients have problems maintaining long-term memories. These problems include difficulty calculating or finding the right words.2 They also have poor executive function and are often depressed or passive,2,3 and lab tests frequently show low levels of zinc or high ratios of copper to zinc.2

Learn about all six known subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease and effective strategies for preventing and even reversing each in the early stages at IFM’s online course, Reversing Cognitive Decline: Advanced Clinical Training in Treating MCI and Early Alzheimer’s Disease. Clinicians will learn:

  • Optimal assessment strategies for patients with MCI and early AD.
  • A new way to stratify patients into specific subtypes based on the likely causes of their dysfunction.
  • Multimodal protocols to individualize treatments for each patient that address the appropriate underlying causes.

Formerly, IFM offered the Reversing Cognitive Decline course, developed in collaboration with Dale Bredesen, MD, and MPI Cognition, on the treatment of early stage AD and MCI.

Explore Other Ways to Support Patients with Cognitive Decline


  1. Hebert LE, Weuve J, Scherr PA, Evans DA. Alzheimer disease in the United States (2010–2050) estimated using the 2010 census. Neurology. 2013;80(19):1778-83. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31828726f5.
  2. Bredesen DE. Inhalational Alzheimer’s disease: an unrecognized—and treatable—epidemic. Aging (Albany NY). 2016;8(2):304-13. doi: 10.18632/aging.100896.
  3. Bredesen DE. Metabolic profiling distinguishes three subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease. Aging (Albany NY). 2015;7(8):595-600. doi: 10.18632/aging.100801.

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