New Guidelines for Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease

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USA (WOIO) - For the first time in more than 25 years, experts are proposing new guidelines to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.

Right now the disease is diagnosed only when the memory starts fading and Dementia takes hold. Doctors believe it can be detected much earlier.

In order to catch the disease early, doctors would use a combination of three tests:

  • PET scans to spot changes in brain function.
  • Blood tests to detect genes that increase risk.
  • And spinal fluid tests to find signs of plaque buildup in the brain.

It's estimated more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's.... but doctors believe tests using the new guidelines could find 5 to 10 million more who may be developing the disease but are not yet showing symptoms.

There are no current treatments to reverse Alzheimer's. Spotting patients early would allow researchers to test new drugs and possibly lead to new treatments.

But an early diagnosis also comes at a price. Many of these tests are expensive and would be expanding the potential patient population being diagnosed with possible Alzheimer's disease.

Doctors say the guidelines still need to be tested so widespread use could be some years away.

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