If You Or Someone Else Suspects Early Signs Of Memory Loss Here’s How You Can Find Out If There’s A Problem
There’s no cure for dementia, and you cannot substantially reverse its effects, but there are ways to possibly slow its progression. But first, you need to know if you or a loved one may have a memory disorder. “Unfortunately, there is not one single test that confirms dementia while you are alive,” says Dr. Julie Brody Magid, clinical director of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital Memory Disorders Assessment Clinic. “The testing process is multilayered and takes many things into consideration. Going through this evaluation may help identify memory problems before they get worse.”
Coping With A Diagnosis
But a diagnosis of Alzheimers, or of being at risk of developing Alzheimers, can be a difficult one.
These patients will have an increased risk of developing dementia, but it is not a one hundred percent risk, and it can be affected, Fladby said.
Several studies have measured exactly how patients handle these kinds of difficult messages.
The results are uplifting most patients dont become depressed, but make changes that have to do with lifestyle. They become more social, spending time with family, Fladby said.
But healthcare professionals must exercise judgement and assess who can cope with this kind of diagnosis before they administer the test. They may want to exclude patients who already suffer from depression, Fladby said.
Translated by: Nancy Bazilchuk
A. Moscoso et al.: Time course of phosphorylated-tau181 in blood across the Alzheimers disease. Summary Brain, 30 November 2020.
Genetic Testing For Single
Genetic testing for single-gene causes of dementia is available through the NHS.
There are two different types of genetic testing diagnostic testing and predictive testing. These are used for different purposes.
People affected by dementia can also use genetic testing for family planning.
Diagnostic testing for dementia
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Whos A Good Candidate
ApoE4 genotyping is not regularly used by most neurologists,Dr. Sabbagh says, and advisory groups recommend that people who do not havesymptoms not get tested.
But he does believe that the test can be used safely and without causing harm or distress in some people.
To me, people who are appropriate candidates are people with mild cognitive impairment, Dr. Sabbagh says. These are likely adults between the ages of about 50 and 75 who demonstrate early symptoms of Alzheimers disease and have already gone through a family history and neuropsychological testing with a neurologist.
I do order it to answer the question why not just what, he explains. Some people want to know why they got Alzheimers disease, so this can help explain that they inherited it and were born with the risk.
Next Steps Following Diagnosis
Right now, there is no available treatment that can effectively halt or reverse the progression of Alzheimers disease. Certain medications and therapeutic interventions have been shown to help dementia patients maintain their physical and mental functionality for as long as possible, but none of these options constitutes a cure. After receiving an Alzheimers diagnosis, it is important for patients and their family members to learn about the disease and make legal, financial, and health care plans for the uncertain future. Being as prepared as possible can help minimize challenges and surprises in the later stages of the disease progression.
Doctors hold out hope that, if they can catch the disease earlier, they may be able to develop more successful treatment plans that will improve health outcomes for patients. In the meantime, the best thing for people to do is embrace a healthy lifestyle and be proactive when it comes to medical testing for AD and all other health conditions.
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Why Would Anyone Want An Early Alzheimers Diagnosis
The SAGE test is useful because it helps you understand if your concerns are something to be worried about.
If the results seem to indicate that there could be a problem, you might think theres no point in talking with the doctor because theres no cure for dementia.
The most important is that a treatable condition could be the cause of cognitive impairment. Finding out sooner means getting treatment ASAP to eliminate the cognitive symptoms.
If the cognitive impairment is caused by Alzheimers or dementia, a major benefit is that starting treatment early is far more effective in managing symptoms and delaying progression of the disease.
Overview / Words Of Caution
Several online tests can help families come closer to knowing whether a loved one suffers from Alzheimers disease or a related dementia. To be clear, these tests are not designed to give a diagnosis of Alzheimers. A diagnosis requires several medical experts, as well as expensive technology and potentially unpleasant procedures such as brain scans and spinal fluid extractions. Recent studies, in fact, have shown that dementia is often misclassified when using only the following tests.
A certain degree of forgetfulness is common to most aging individuals. Mild Cognitive Impairment is a condition which is more severe than normal memory decline associated with aging, but not so severe as Alzheimers. Online tests for dementia/Alzheimers should be adequate to help families distinguish between these conditions.
Before discussing the various options available to self-administer an Alzheimers test from the Internet, some words of caution are advised.
1. No online test can definitively tell if your loved one has Alzheimers. Do not believe any website saying otherwise.
2. There are many free tests, available online, produced by universities, nonprofits and reputable medical institutions. It is strongly recommended that one use the following links to find one of these tests. Do not pay for an Alzheimers test advertised online more than likely, these paid tests are not valid and can possibly be scams.
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Blood Tests Available Now
A blood test is available now, through your doctor, that delivers a result in about 10 days and accurately determines whether someone has Alzheimers disease. The Preclivity AD Test from C2N Diagnostics measures proteins in blood plasma that indicate a buildup of plaques known to cause dementia in peoples brains.
The cost of this Alzheimers blood test is $1,250, less expensive than a PET scan that looks for the same protein buildups. Unfortunately, the price tag cannot be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, but C2N says people who cant afford the test can qualify for a discount based on their income.
Does it Work?
C2N Diagnostics says they tested Preclivity AD in 686 people and compared it to the results of PET scans. When PET scans showed a high amount of amyloid-beta, a protein that turns to plaques and tangles in the brains of people with Alzheimers, the blood test agreed 92 percent of the time. When the PET scan showed no amyloid, the blood test showed the same about 77 percent of the time.
How to Get the Blood Test
The Preclivity AD Test has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is currently available only through a doctor, and can be sold by the company under rules for commercial laboratories. The test, in other words, is available despite lacking FDA approval, though C2N has said the FDA is planning on reviewing the test in 2021. The Alzheimers Association says it wont endorse the test until there is FDA approval.
How Effective Is The Blood Test
C2N reported that they used the Preclivity AD on 168 people. They then compared the results with those of PET scans.
When PET scans showed high amounts of amyloid-beta the blood test agreed 92% of the time.
If there was no amyloid shown after a PET scan, the blood test also gave similar results 77% of the time.
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Gathering A Complete Medical History
As with the treatment of any medical condition, physicians will ask for a rundown of a patients past and present health issues and all medications they are currently taking. The doctor will also take a brief family medical history to assess the patients risk of developing certain conditions due to genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. For example, if a patients parent had early-onset Alzheimers disease, it increases the likelihood that the patient will also develop this disease.
Elevated Levels Detected Long Before Symptoms Appeared
The disease is a consequence of high levels of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain.
The researchers took blood samples from 1,100 Swedish inhabitants over a number of years. They used their test to measure the presence of phosphorylated tau protein .
They then compared these blood tests with individuals who were subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The test revealed a strong link between elevated levels of this specific tau protein in the blood and the loss of nerve cells and impaired cognitive ability in Alzheimer’s disease several years later.
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How Does The Sage Test Work
SAGE evaluates your thinking abilities by asking you questions related to language, reasoning, problem-solving, and memory.
Scharre explains that the questions cover a wide range of cognitive domains, especially those abilities that are early predictors of mild cognitive impairment.
SAGE measures cognitive function by assessing the following areas:
- How many nickels are in 60 cents?
- Write down the names of 12 different animals
In addition to the scored items on the test, SAGE asks questions about your medical history, such as “Have you suffered a stroke?” The test asks if youve had a family history of cognitive impairment. Youre also asked about any current symptoms you may be having, such as problems with memory, balance, or if you’ve experienced any personality changes. These answers can help your clinician identify possible causes of cognitive decline.
Blood Test For Alzheimers Highly Accurate In Large International Study
When combined with genetic risk factors, test up to 93% accurate at identifying people at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia
Neurologist Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology, inspects a mass spectrometry machine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Using mass spectrometry, Bateman and colleagues have developed a blood test that is up to 93% accurate at identifying people at risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.
A blood test developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has proven highly accurate in detecting early signs of Alzheimers disease in a study involving nearly 500 patients from across three continents, providing further evidence that the test should be considered for routine screening and diagnosis.
The study is available in the journal Neurology.
Our study shows that the blood test provides a robust measure for detecting amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimers disease, even among patients not yet experiencing cognitive declines, said senior author Randall J. Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology.
Developed by Bateman and colleagues, the blood test assesses whether amyloid plaques have begun accumulating in the brain based on the ratio of the levels of the amyloid beta proteins A42 and A40 in the blood.
Who Should Consider Taking The Sage Test
According to Scharre, anyone who is experiencing memory, language, problem-solving, or thinking problems should consider taking SAGE.
This may be especially important if you are noticing very mild symptoms, since SAGE is designed to pick up early deficits and allow your healthcare providers to diagnose and manage any potential conditions at an early stage,” he explains.
Friends or family members may want to encourage a loved to take the test if they notice issues related to memory or thinking.
You may also wish to take a SAGE to establish a baseline cognitive assessment to use for comparison in the future if you have a family history of dementia or thinking problems.
Typically, we would suggest repeating the test every six months unless significant cognitive changes are occurring,” advises Scharre.
You can download the test for free at the Wexner Medical Center website.
Theres also a digital version made for tablets produced by a company called BrainTest. It consists of identical test questions. This version is scored by a panel and results are sent to you so can take them to your primary care physician for further discussion. You can download the electronic version at BrainTest.com.
What Is The Sage Test
SAGE is a self-administered test available online. It has been scientifically evaluated in comparison with other common dementia tests and has been found to be an accurate tool to identify signs of memory and thinking impairment. While not meant to replace a clinical assessment, the SAGE test can be helpful in identifying cognitive losses earlier, when treatment may be most effective.
The SAGE test contains a series of questions that measure cognitive functioning. There are actually four different tests to choose from, and they are all interchangeable. If you took all four , you should score essentially the same on each test.The different options are available to reduce the chances of inaccurate scoring that can result from re-taking the same test too frequently.
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Are There Any Other Blood Tests For Alzheimers
There is another blood test for dementia that is showing great potential for diagnosing the progressive illness.
It is known as Simoa which stands for single-molecule array.
This is also designed to test if there are any proteins in the blood plasma. This test can detect a protein known as ptau181 which has been linked to some of the changes that dementia causes in the brain.
Various studies revealed that Simoa is as effective at predicting dementia development as a spinal tap and PET scans.
The Simoa blood test, however, ELIMINATES the pain, cost, and radioactivity that are associated with the other tests.
Simoa can also detect upcoming changes in the brain that are caused by dementia for both short and long-term i.e. 15 months and 4 years respectively.
At the moment, researchers are using this technology to identify ideal candidates for clinical trials because it is not yet available for many people with the illness.
Apart from Simoa, there are other types of blood tests that are still in development.
Other blood tests
Some are looking into fatty amides or protective fats in the blood.
Studies indicate that if there are increased levels of fatty amide in the blood, it may be an indication of the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain.
Researchers are also working on blood tests that will measure other proteins like the NfL and tau proteins.
Who Can Take The Sage Test
Anyone who is experiencing memory, language, problem-solving, or thinking problems can take the self-administered gerocognitive exam test. Your doctor may recommend you take the test to check if you have mild cognitive impairment. Family and friends can encourage their loved ones if they spot behavior and thinking changes in them.
If you have a family history of dementia or Alzheimers, you may take a SAGE test at any point and use it to compare in the future when you notice problems in your mental functioning.
The test is available for free at the Wexner Medical Center website of the Ohio State University.
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Some Of The Commonly Used Cognitive Tests Include:
Mini-Mental Status Examination
This test is usually conducted by your doctor or specialist in their office and takes around 5 minutes to complete. The MMSE is the most common test for the screening of dementia. It assesses skills such as reading, writing, orientation and short-term memory.
Alzheimers Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive
This 11-part test is more thorough than the MMSE and can be used for people with mild symptoms.
It is considered the best brief examination for memory and language skills.
It takes around 30 minutes and is usually conducted by a specialist in their office, or you may be referred to a psychologist for the test.
This involves a number of very sensitive tests administered by a neuropsychologist .
A typical testing session will take at least 2 hours and may be conducted over more than one visit.
A variety of tests will be used and may include tests of memory such as recall of a paragraph, tests of the ability to copy drawings or figures and tests of reasoning and comprehension.
Standard X-rays may be taken and those who smoke will commonly require a chest X-ray to rule out lung cancer, which may be causing a secondary brain tumour. \
Brain imaging techniques
Various brain-imaging techniques are sometimes used to show brain changes and to rule out other conditions such as tumour, infarcts and hydrocephalus these include:
What Is Dementia And What Causes It
Dementia is a syndrome that causes a person to develop difficulty and problems with their memory or their ability to think. Unlike the normal changes that happen in a persons memory and thinking over time, dementia affects someones ability to function in their daily life activities and their normal routine .There are different causes of dementia. These causes are typically underlying neurological conditions . One common cause of dementia is Alzheimers disease. Other causes include diseases that impact brain blood vessels. For example, strokes may cause what is commonly termed Vascular Dementia. Some causes include Lewy Body Disease and Parkinsons disease.
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Rarely Asked Questions About Alzheimers Disease
Even though the disease has no direct cure, people with Alzheimer can easily manage symptoms at home.
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