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Earlier Detection of Alzheimer’s Might Mean Better Treatment

 The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association have come together to issue a new definition and medical guidelines for Alzheimer’s, the first serious reworking of the definition in 27 years. The full onset of dementia, the classic hallmark of the disease, is now thought to be the last of three progressive stages. Research indicates that the disease affects the brain long before the onset of dementia, and the first stage often shows no outward symptoms at all. The second stage is an intermediary phase where neurological symptoms begin to set in but with little indication as to the full extent to come.

The most striking addition to the guidelines concerns methods that assess brain changes, including brain scans and tests of cerebral spinal fluid. These methods measure biomarkers, the physiological indicators that someone is likely to develop dementia eventually, just as cholesterol and blood pressure are biomarkers of impending heart disease.

Unfortunately, this information will not affect general medical practice yet.  However, they could be used with patients enrolled in clinical trials because scientists cannot yet standardize the test results.

The importance of this new information, according to Dr. Pierre Tariot, director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, is that we understand the disease to be a very long process. “The notion that Alzheimer’s disease is a continuum that has an extensive pre-symptomatic phase is a very important message to get out.”

If you or a loved one are coping with or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, please visit our website for our Alzheimer’s Resource Guide, which lists the latest breakthroughs in treatment and care of the Alzheimer’s patient. You may also be interested in attending one of our free Trust, Estate & Asset Protection workshops to learn how best to protect yourself, your spouse, your home, and your life-savings from the high costs of long-term medical care, nursing homes, avoidable taxes, and the delays of probate.