New testing options offer hope for better Alzheimer’s treatment

New testing options offer hope for better Alzheimer’s treatment

The number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease has more than doubled since former President Ronald Reagan officially designated November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in 1983.

According to stats published by the National Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans with the disease has jumped from fewer than 2 million in 1983 to nearly 5 million now. The drastic increase occurred despite great strides made in the tools used for diagnosis and the approach to manage disease progression.

However, there is a ray of hope. New, more-advanced testing options can refine or confirm a diagnosis when a clinical examination remains inconclusive. The diagnostics include: genetic testing, which is used to help identify specific gene mutations linked to the disease.

Evaluation of spinal fluid allows doctors to look for levels of proteins like amyloid and tau, which serve as disease indicators when they are present in specific levels. In addition, there is an imaging test, known as PET scan, which can detect plaque buildup in a person’s brain consistent with the disease.

The aforementioned tests provide doctors with a clearer picture of the brain that previously was only possible through brain biopsy or autopsy. Armed with a clearer Alzheimer’s diagnosis, doctors can better determine the most effective approach to manage symptoms like confusion and memory loss and delay disease progression.


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