It is such a privilege to live in a day and age when diseases are continuously being studied. New studies bring more treatment options for patients and a better understanding of the condition or disease. While things may not be advancing as quick as I would like, with each new study we gain something we didn’t have in the past. This article focuses on Alzheimer’s disease by covering what it is, what new studies have been done and how that is making earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s possible.
What is Alzheimer’s and How Many People Does it Affect?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s occurs in older people, usually over the age of 60. Sadly, an estimated 4.5 million Americans are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is an irreversible disease that progresses over time. It slowly destroys thinking and memory skills, ultimately affecting daily living. The good news is that medication can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s as well as aid in managing the symptoms.
New Research on Alzheimer’s Disease
Two new studies were published in the August issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (JNM) regarding the potential of position emission tomography (PET) to tell the difference between types of dementia, as well as identify medications to slow the progress of such dementia. These new studies are very exciting as they will aid in helping improve the lives of millions of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s. Not only does Alzheimer’s affect the person who has it, it also affects their family and friends. Being able to identify which medications to use for which type of dementia is a monumental milestone.
Fall Brings New Tests for Early Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
I first learned of these new tests while at my doctors office. They show programs on their television relating to health. Knowing people with Alzheimer’s myself, I was pleased to hear of the new guidelines and tests that will soon be available.
Earlier in 2011, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and Alzheimer’s Association released new guidelines and criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. The new guidelines go into effect this fall. They include information on the development of tests to measure biological changes in the brain, blood or spinal fluid. These new tests are promising because they help physicians diagnose Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage. Earlier diagnosis is helpful so those diagnosed, along with their families, can plan for what is ahead.
Earlier this year MSNBC talked about basketball coach, Pat Summit, and her early onset of Alzheimer’s. Summit is a 59-year-old women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. It is inspiring to hear that Summit plans to continue her career in spite of having Alzheimer’s. The article reveals that more tests are needed since there are no medications at present to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s, even when it is detected early. Although current medications cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, treatment can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association highlights encouraging news that there is a worldwide effort taking place to find better treatment, delay the onset and prevent Alzheimer’s from developing altogether.
7 Early Warning Signs
With new tests available, anyone with the early warning signs should schedule an appointment with their health care provider.
Asking the same question, repeatedly. Retelling the same story, time and time again. Forgetting how to do things done on a regular basis, such as job duties or cooking. Losing the ability to handle finances. Getting lost in familiar places and misplacing objects such as keys. Forgetting to bathe or wearing the same clothes repeatedly, yet insisting they have taken care of their hygiene. Depending on others to make decisions or answer questions they would have previously taken care of themselves.
It is important to note that Alzheimer’s disease is not the only cause of memory loss. If you or a loved one experiences memory loss, it is best to schedule an appointment with your health care professional.
More health related articles by Rebecca:
Fried Foods Are Fun, But They Can Go Too Far
I Go Against Expert Advice and Only Work Out Once a Week
Hospital Mistakes, By the Numbers
Could My Child Have Amblyopia?