Approximately 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. Though the incidence rate is declining, the growing number of citizens in the over-65 age group means that the numbers for those with the disease will likely continue to rise in the coming years.
Dementia diseases are traumatic for both those who suffer from them as well as their loved ones. A promising new blood test may help families identify Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages, allowing for early treatment.
What You Need To Know About the Blood Test
One of the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. However, memory impairment is also a common sign of aging and other diseases. Though Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, memory loss alone does not indicate that a person has the disease. Furthermore, brain changes begin before symptoms appear.
Those with the disease tend to have an excessive accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid in their brains. Scientists at Washington University's School of Medicine in St. Louis, M.O., developed a blood test identifying the amyloid protein. The test’s accuracy is as high as 93% when combined with a test that measures the presence of the APEO4 gene, a variant associated with the disease.
Why the Test Is Promising
Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, treatment may slow its progress and alleviate symptoms. Aducanumab is the only drug on the market that removes the plaques from amyloid accumulation in the brain. The drug is only available for those in the early stages of the disease. An accurate blood test would help identify more people at the onset, providing an opportunity for Aducanumab treatment.
Research on a cure and new treatment methods are ongoing. The new blood test also holds promise on the research front. A test that detects the disease before symptoms begin can help with early diagnosis. Those whose tests demonstrate they have Alzheimer’s may be able to enroll in clinical trials for new treatments.
Though we at AmeriEstate understand that a diagnosis is never easy, knowing about the disease early can provide individuals and their loved ones with options that may slow the disease’s progress. No studies prove lifestyle changes are effective in prolonging the impacts. However, making the following healthy choices may help alleviate the symptoms:
- Eating a diet that consists of healthy foods and refraining from drinking alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Remaining socially active
- Reading and doing brain exercises
- Getting plenty of sleep
People who receive an early diagnosis can also decide what care options they prefer, creating an advanced healthcare directive that spells out their wishes.
Where You Should Go for Legal Assistance
While the new blood test isn’t a cure, we all hope that it leads to better treatment options for those with Alzheimer’s. Establishing legal documents such as a healthcare directive, power of attorney and trusts can help you and your loved ones plan how to manage affairs and care if someone in your family receives an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
AmeriEstate recognizes the challenges of this disease and is here to help ease some of the burdens associated with managing care and assets. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.