A new test developed by Belgian researchers, using spinal fluid, is 100% accurate in identifying those with MCI (mild cognitive impairment), a condition that precedes Alzheimer's disease. The test looks for 3 "biomarkers" in the cerebrospinal fluid which are also found in Alzheimer's patients.
This is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that, even with a test that can detect Alzheimer's disease in the early stages, there is currently no cure for the disease. The good news is that this diagnostic breakthrough could allow patients to take preventive measures before the disease has progressed to an advanced stage where there is no hope of recovery. In addition, it could encourage the development of new drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease in the early stages, when drugs may be more effective.
The authors of the study, published in the August 2010 issue of The Archives of Neurology, conclude: "The unexpected presence of the Alzheimer's disease signature in more than one-third of cognitively normal subjects suggests that the Alzheimer's pathology is active and detectable earlier." With this new test, early detection could provide a "window of opportunity" for Alzheimer's prevention before the disease is irreversible. Just as we now take preventive steps if a blood test shows high levels of cholesterol, we may soon be able to do the same for Alzheimer's disease, turning it into a "manageable" condition just like heart disease.
Unfortunately, because supplements, a healthier diet and regular exercise will not likely be the focus of an extensive, long-term study due to cost considerations, there may never be conclusive proof of their effectiveness. But there is a growing body of research that strongly indicates preventive measures could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by as much as 70 percent. With those odds, prevention makes a lot of sense. As Ben Franklin said over 200 years ago, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Be sure to contact us today if you have any questions about Alzheimer's or the custom care plans we offer individuals with the disease.