Blood tests can speed up Alzheimer’s diagnosis


1. When faced with what symptom or symptoms should we consider going to the doctor for a possible cognitive disorder or neurodegenerative disease?

In general, any consistent change in cognitive functions that represents a relevant change in relation to the past. However, it is more than forgetting your keys or wallet, or not remembering people’s names, because these changes are very frequent from a certain age.

2. Why is it important to have an early evaluation for these diseases?

In recent times, early diagnostic methods have been developed that allow Alzheimer’s disease to be detected in its early stages. In addition, treatments are being developed to alter the course of Alzheimer’s disease, and we know that they are most effective in the early stages.

3. But what does it mean for the patient to know in advance the diagnosis of a degenerative pathology like the one mentioned?

First, knowing the reasons for what is happening and being able to make decisions about aspects that may be important to the person, such as managing the economy and other aspects of the future, such as making advance directive, etc.

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4. Regarding age, Alzheimer’s can occur, although it is not common, before old age. What percentage of patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s before age 65?

The frequency of Alzheimer’s disease that begins before the age of 65 is 5-6% of all cases. We know that the profile can be different and the symptoms can be atypical, such as speech difficulties or visual symptoms.

5. What kind of tests do they do on the Memory Unit?

We performed a comprehensive evaluation that included a clinical evaluation, a neuropsychological assessment, and a brain imaging test. In some cases, the study was completed with a study of Alzheimer’s markers in the cerebrospinal fluid.

6. What is the biggest fear passed on to you by the patients in question?

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Many patients express the fear of suffering from Alzheimer’s, because they have seen it in a family member or acquaintance. However, my experience is that many patients have myths and preconceived notions and being able to clarify these aspects gives them security and peace of mind in this regard.

7. What can the patient do? And the family members?

Uncertainty about the causes of cognitive decline leads to much confusion and misinterpretation. Therefore, we recommend an objective evaluation, which is often helpful and often reassuring.

8. To what extent does having a family member with Alzheimer’s increase the risk of developing this neurodegenerative disease in the future?

We know that age and first-degree family history are risk factors. However, Alzheimer’s disease is considered genetic in less than 1% of cases and is mostly caused by a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors.

9. In the future, do you see it being possible to find out with a simple blood test if a person has Alzheimer’s disease?

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Now there are techniques that can identify if a person has Alzheimer’s through a blood test. However, they are still investigational methods and require approval for clinical use, which could happen in the coming months. It may not work in isolation and, at least initially, the results should be confirmed by other tests. However, they can speed up the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

10. By the end of 2025, the first drugs capable of stopping Alzheimer’s in its early stages may arrive in Europe. Do you think this disease can be cured?

We don’t know if it can be cured or not, but having drugs that can change the course of this disease for the first time is a big step forward. In the coming years we will see many other drugs appear that will improve treatment options, as has happened with many other diseases.