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Study shows testing for Alzheimer's is accurate
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Even back when I was a medical student, we were taught Alzheimer’s disease (AD) began to cause damage in the brain years, perhaps decades before one’s memory started to fade.
The big question, of course, was how could you possibly screen for the disease before problems emerged? As things stood for a long time, the only way to know for sure if someone had AD was at the time of autopsy. In fact, the disease is named after Alois Alzheimer, a neuropathologist, who in 1906, diagnosed the disease by using special stains of the brain after a patient’s death.
Over the years, there have been sophisticated tests such as PET and MRI scanning, which can help diagnose a patient, but are often better at excluding other causes of memory loss rather than confirming early AD. In short, there has been no great screening test for Alzheimer’s disease.
That may all start to change today, based on a new study from the Archives of Neurology. The authors have conducted a study showing a spinal-fluid test can be nearly 100 percent accurate in identifying patients who have mild memory loss now, and will go on to develop AD.
Think about that for a second. I have seen so many patients with mild memory loss who ask the question – is this the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease? The truth is, as a medical community – we were not sure. This test could provide that answer. Read more
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