Although most aren't diagnosed with Alzeimer's disease until they reach their 60s, early signs of the debilitating illness start appearing as early as 20 years before that. If doctors were to recognize those earliest signs of disease, they'd likely be able to prescribe drugs already in existence on the market that could greatly slow memory loss that's associated with it.
A study, published in the Nature journal on Jan. 31, highlights how studies that have been conducted in Australia and Japan have given way to doctors being able to better detect patient's early signs of Alzheimer's disease. It highlights how they've come to associate the presence of amyloid proteins in a patient's blood with early signs of the disease.
In terms of one study, researchers from Japan's National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology used blood samples collected from 400 individuals with anything from normal cognitive abilities to Alzheimer's. They then compared their precursor amyloid protein samples to the ones acquired by doing PET scans. The blood samples were found to be in alignment with PET scan results in at least 90 percent of all cases.
This latest discovery is definitively groundbreaking. Up until the 1980s, Alzheimer's diagnoses were only able to be made post-mortem during autopsies. Since then, doctors have relied heavily on the use of both costly PET scans and invasive spinal taps to confirm suspected diagnoses.
As for this most recent research, it gives scientists hope that future diagnoses will be easily made by simply giving patients a blood test early on in life at a point before it wreaks havoc on their lives. If caught early, it's believed that its debilitating symptoms can either be slowed or altogether done away with.
While it may take additional testing to confirm that this latest, less costly or invasive blood tests are definitively on the horizon as a way to diagnose Alzheimer's much earlier in the future.
If you feel as if your loved one's received delayed treatment for his or her disease unnecessarily, then a Tucson failure to diagnose attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.
Source: Quartz, "Diagnosing Alzheimer’s may soon become much easier and cheaper," Katherine Ellen Foley, Jan. 31, 2018