8 Pros and Cons of Being Tested for Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s is a devastating cognitive disease that effects much more people than you think. It is essentially a type of neurological disorder that leads to death of brain cells, which then causes memory loss. Not only is memory loss a part of Alzheimer’s disease, but cognitive decline is also apparent in people suffering from this disease. Since Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, it normally starts out slowly and symptoms progress and worsen over time. Early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s can be tricky, but there are a variety of different tests that are designed to properly diagnose this neurological disorder.

Pros of Being Tested for Alzheimer’s

1. Brief Cognitive Screens
This type of Alzheimer’s test is also referred to as a mental status test and involves being given a test that is designed to check for the onset of thinking problems. A main benefit of this Alzheimer’s test is that it is fairly brief. The duration of this test is only about 10 to 15 minutes and it can be used to track how cognitive thinking is changing over time.

2. Neuropsychological Test
This type of Alzheimer’s testing involves a written and oral exam along with an interview with a professional. A detailed picture of cognitive strength is supposed to be the outcome of this test. It is a very effective test for evaluating early cognitive changes. It can also give a detailed overview of the areas of metal functioning that are being most affected.

3. Brain Imaging Tests
This type of Alzheimer’s testing is more high tech, but it is still not completely conclusive. It involves the use of CT and MRI brain scans to take a look at the brain structure and notice in changes. This test is designed to find a different cause of memory problems. If one is not found using a brain imaging test, it is often thought that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is more likely. This can be a pretty good way to limit the number of causes for cognitive problems.

4. Genetic Tests
This a popular way to test for Alzheimer’s and involves analyzing DNA for specific genes. There have been several gene variants that have been linked to this disease and testing using this methods is pretty effective, but not entirely conclusive. Those that have a family history of Alzheimer’s can be tested using this method and sometimes be diagnosed early. Having one of 3 mutations is a high risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s later in life.

Pros of Being Tested for Alzheimer’s

1. Brief Cognitive Test
This test is almost always a preliminary test, because the results can never be conclusive. There is no way to accurately diagnose someone with Alzheimer’s using this test alone, because it is not effective or reliable enough.

2. Neuropsychological Test
This type of test can take up to 10 hours to complete, which can be draining for anyone that is dealing with Alzheimer’s symptoms. It can be a very stressful test to finish and the results are not conclusive.

3. Brain Imaging Tests
Tracing agents are often used intravenously during this type of testing and can have adverse effects in some patients. It is also important to remember that just because a cause of cognitive trouble can’t be seen with a brain imaging doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has Alzheimer’s with complete certainty.

4. Genetic Testing
Most cases of Alzheimer’s are late onset and accurately diagnosing this disease early is almost impossible. You can show a link, but there is no way to no for sure if that person will eventually develop this disease.

Is It Worth the Trouble to be Tested for Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s research has progressed in recent years and there is more known about this disorder by the day. However, the ideal test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s has still not been developed quite yet.

How Common is Alzheimer’s?

It is human nature to think that you are immune to certain diseases or disorders. Until you are actually diagnosed, it is difficult to process that a debilitating disorder could be a reality of your life. However, Alzheimer’s is a disorder that is much more common than you realize and more research needs to be invested in finding better diagnosis methods and cures.

Are You Over the Age of 65?

Did you know that there are more than 5 million people living in the united States over the age of 65 that are dealing with this disease? This means that over a tenth of the population over the age of 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s, which is a pretty significant percentage. More than 65% of all dementia cases can actually be linked to Alzheimer’s, which makes it the overriding most popular form of dementia.

What is the Cause?

In order to understand how to properly diagnose and test for Alzheimer’s disease, it is necessary to know what causes this form of dementia. The death of brain cells has been pinpointed as the cause and these brain cells often die slowly over time. This is why Alzheimer’s disease usually slowly worsens and progresses. It has also been shown that the entire size of the brain shrinks in people that have this disease. Since the brain tissue has fewer nerve cells and connections, the size tends to shrink.

Are There Risk Factors to Being Diagnosed with this Disease?

It is hard to determine what outside factors cause Alzheimer’s disease, but there have been a few things labeled as risk factors. There might be some type of direct connection or link between these factors and Alzheimer’s disease. However, not enough research has been completed to say for certain that these are actual causes. Some of the most common risk factors that have been determined are age, family history, genetics, diabetes, high blood pressure, High cholesterol, a prior head injury or a sleep disorder. None of these risk factors are known for sure to be causes, but there is a link between these factors and people that are diagnosed with this disease.

Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease

The bad news about Alzheimer’s testing is that no conclusive test has been developed that can show with absolute certainty that you have this disease. This might be a surprising fact, but it is the reality. Since there is no one test that can be used for diagnosing this disease, a variety of different tests have been developed. Even though most people assume that a test for accurately diagnosing Alzheimer’s has already been developed, there is exciting research being done.

Do You Have Symptoms?

If you are experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and are looking for proper diagnosis, a clinical assessment is given to diagnose this disease. This type of clinical assessment involves various tests that check different aspects of this cognitive disorder. These tests are not necessarily a high tech way to diagnose this disease or even completely effective, but they are the only current options for diagnosis. The 4 main tests of Alzheimer’s include brief cognitive screens, neuropsychological tests, brain imaging tests and genetic tests.