Health Watch - Alzheimer's Disease: Testing

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November was Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, so as we look back on the month, we’ll take this opportunity to discuss Alzheimer’s disease on Health Watch. One of the problems doctors face with Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosing it definitively, but researchers may have found a simpler test.

Alzheimer’s disease affects memory and the ability to think. In its earliest stages, the symptoms are similar to other brain disorders, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Now researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have developed a blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Ramón Díaz-Arrastia, a UT Southwestern neurologist, says the test works by examining multiple proteins in a blood sample. This analysis, combined with a physical exam, was 94 percent accurate in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and 84 percent accurate in ruling it out. Accurate diagnosis allows more effective treatment with medications that specifically target Alzheimer’s disease.


November 2010

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