Alzheimer’s: New Blood Test and More Deadly Than Previously Thought

alzheimer's, alzheimers test, alzheimers more deadlyWhat if you had a three-year head start to help combat early symptoms of Alzheimers?  What if in those three years you could make lifestyle changes and begin treatment therapies to delay the onset even further?  A new blood test has 90 percent accuracy in early studies and could be the key to delaying onset or even curing patients.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center have developed a blood test that looks at 10 biomarkers that can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive decline symptoms within three years.

In 2010, 35 million people suffered with Alzheimer’s worldwide.  The World Health Organization thinks that number will rise to 115 million by 2050, one of the side effects of an aging global population.

The study looked at 500 participants over the age of 70 for a five-year period, taking annual blood samples and testing mental and memory skills.  From that cohort, they took 53 participants who developed Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment and compared them with 53 controls who remained healthy.

They found 10 phospholipids that form a major component of cell membranes at lower levels in the blood in symptomatic participants than in healthy participants.

This is just preliminary for now and the Georgetown researchers are looking to develop a clinical trial to further analyze the blood test.

Is Alzheimer’s under reported?

A study released this month suggests that Alzheimer’s as a cause of death is frequently under reported.  Published in the journal Neurology, the study looked at 2,566 people over the age of 65 who received annual dementia testing.  After an average of eight years, 1,090 participants died.

The official number of people who died of Alzheimer’s in 2010 is 83,494, but researchers from Rush University Medical Center put that number at 503,400.

“Death certificates often list the immediate cause of death, such as pneumonia, rather than listing dementia as an underlying cause,” said lead researcher Bryan D. James of Rush University Medical Center.

This brings Alzheimer’s up to the third most deadly disease in the U.S. with heart disease at 597,689 deaths and cancer at 574,743 deaths in 2010, a dramatic shift in perspective.

As a physician, do you work with Alzheimer’s patients?  Since there are few treatment options available to these patients, would knowing sooner be helpful, or unethical?   We’ll be discussing this and more inside Sermo, if you’re an M.D. or D.O. we’d love to have you join the conversation.

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