A new research study released in findings in July of 2011 for their
Alzheimer's Blood Test
which showed great promise in the field of Alzheimer's research.
We have been looking for a conclusive Alzheimer's test for a long time.
The latest news release, coming out in April of 2011 from a study by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association, did not find that there was one definitive test that could be used alone to diagnosis Alzheimer's.
It did issue new guidelines for the early diagnosing and updated the medical community on new staging and diagnostic criteria.
It is unfortunate but it needs to be said:
There are no known treatments that can either halt the progression or cure the disease of Alzheimer's.
It remains a devastating diagnosis with no known cure or effective treatment. We hope, with continued research, that a cure will be discovered soon.
The first step in looking for a Alzheimer's diagnosis is to rule out other medical condition that may be mimicking the symptoms of Alzheimer's.
If you feel your loved one is experiencing any of the
10 warning signs
of Alzheimer's, the first thing you need to do is encourage them to get a full medical work up.
It should include a neurological exam as well as a physical exam and lab work. Depression can sometimes look like early Alzheimer's symptoms as well. It is important that your loved one get treated for depression if that is the case.
There are other medical conditions that can lead to memory loss so it is important to rule them out first.
One Alzheimer's test that has been performed for years is utilizing imaging to determine if there are structural changes in the brain itself.
For years, end stage Alzheimer's has shown brain degeneration on CT Scans and MRI's.
Now, with the new guidelines, scientists can look for the presence of amyloid plaques and other physical symptoms that may appear prior to the development of symptoms.
Image testing may happen after the full medical exam performed by your loved one's physician. Know that CT Scans and MRI's can be frightening, especially if they are claustrophobic or have any anxiety issues.
Make sure to let the doctor know if these conditions exist. The lab can make arrangements to have your loved one be given a sedative prior to the exam.
Alzheimer Test: Diagnostic Imaging
The MMSE, or
Mini Mental Status Examination
, is a short test that can be given in the doctor's office during a routine appointment.
Although it is not diagnostic in itself, trending on the MMSE can indicate and document when changes are occurring and how fast they are occurring.
If you are noticing episodes of memory loss, ask if their doctor can perform an MMSE at the next appointment.
Sometimes it is even advisable to do one if there are no episodes of memory loss to use as a baseline should changes occur.
I would not recommend performing the test at home though. Too much over exposure to the types of questions can alter the results.
One exciting Alzheimer's test is genome, or gene, testing. Scientist are on the verge of finding specific genes related to this disease.
As of April, 2011, they have confirmed one gene variant and several others may be identified shortly that may lead to Alzheimer's disease.
Genetic testing is extremely expensive and is not available in mainstream medicine.
Hopefully in the future, genome testing can lead to early detection. And then when a successful treatment is discovered, those that test positive can receive treatment before the onset of symptoms.
Alzheimer's Disease Research
Looking for a specific Alzheimer's test is just one aspect of what Alzheimer's Disease Research involves.
It also involves looking for different treatment and prevention options, including both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical options.
Treatment at this point is limited to a few medications that have shown some help for some people.
They are also actively researching prevention ideas.
Unfortunately, there is no one specific Alzheimer's Test.
The new guidelines may lead to more research, with the opportunity of receiving early treatment when it becomes available.
This is incredibly hard on family caregivers, as there is basically nothing that can give you a definitive diagnosis early and even when you do get a diagnosis; your treatment options are limited.
Talk with your doctors and ask for referrals if necessary. Although there is no cure, early intervention can sometimes lead to delaying the onset of other symptoms.
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