Currently there is no FDA approved blood test for Alzheimer’s disease. This could change in the near future as a group of researchers are showing promise that they can accurately detect the presence of Alzheimer’s in the disease’s early stages.
Medical News Today reports that even though the cause of Alzheimer’s continues to be mysterious, it is known that weakening of the blood vessels in the brain results in brain-reactive autoantibodies being released, binding to neurons and accelerating the buildup of beta-amyloid deposits. This accumulation is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s pathology.
Doctor Robert Nagele of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and his team of researchers are close to being able to accurately identify Alzheimer’s early enough that patients can make lifestyle changes and hopefully avoid the most severe symptoms of the disease.
Dr. Nagele says that it is important to catch the disease early and that there are steps to improve vascular health including maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
There are significant benefits to early disease detection because we now know that many of the same conditions that lead to vascular disease are also significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s. People found to have preclinical disease can take steps to improve their vascular health, including watching their diet, exercising and managing any weight and blood pressure issues to help stave off or slow disease progression.
Assistant professor of family medicine at Rowan University, Jennifer Caudle, explains that even though physicians tell patients all the time how important healthy living is, change often does not occur until a health crisis occurs.
As osteopathic physicians, we constantly tell patients that a healthy lifestyle is the best medicine for preventing disease. We also know that many people tune out messages about nutrition and exercise until a health crisis gets their attention. I can’t think of a single patient who wouldn’t take steps to prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s if they could directly affect their prognosis.
According to EurekAlert, there are currently about 5.3 million Americans affected by Alzheimer’s disease and it is one of the top ten causes of death in this country. Hopefully this test will help reduce future numbers of cases.