Efforts on for Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s
Medical experts have expanded their efforts to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease earlier. Therefore, major changes have been proposed in the criteria for declaring Alzheimer’s disease.
New Technology to Detect Alzheimer’s Earlier
New technologies such as brain scans could be utilized to detect Alzheimer’s even before there are symptoms such as memory problems. Experts believe that come fall, new guidelines would be adopted as criteria for detecting Alzheimer’s. If this happens, the number of Alzheimer’s patients could increase two to three times. Currently, 5.3 million Americans suffer from the disease according to The Alzheimer’s Association.
Drug companies would welcome the development, as they can try to develop new medicines to try and tackle the disease earlier. These new developments are good news for patients also as the old methods for diagnosing Alzheimer’s were becoming outdated.
New Thinking About Alzheimer’s
Currently accepted symptoms for Alzheimer’s include dementia, memory loss and lack of ability to do daily activities such as bathing or dressing. But, many researchers now say that the disease could be present 10 years before dementia occurs. This indicates a dramatic change in the thinking of experts, as now dementia is being viewed as a late stage development.
But, a word of caution. Early diagnoses of Alzheimer’s could lead to mistakes, at least initially. Therefore, the earlier the diagnosis, the less certain it can be regarding occurrence of Alzheimer’s.
Tests for Alzheimer’s Symptoms
Tests such as spinal taps, MRI scans and brain scans would be used to check brain changes for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. A new method, which is a PET scan, can reveal plaque inside the brain, which is a unique symptom of Alzheimer’s. The above mentioned tests can provide definite indications of the incidence of Alzheimer’s, even though the patient may not have dementia or memory loss.
Eventually, individuals aged 50 or more, can take these tests to check for Alzheimer’s. And, if the test results are positive, they can take medicines to tackle it. This development is regarded as a major advance by health experts.
Impact of this Ripple
These tests can help patients and their close ones plan ahead about dealing with Alzheimer’s. Medical experts say the developments are a giant step, as they can now investigate the causes for the disease, instead of merely looking at symptoms. Testing and diagnosis rates are expected to increase. Patients with memory problems may be asked to take expensive biomarker tests. Therefore, the ripple may involve insurance companies, workers’ compensation programs and lawyers.