Alzheimer’s is a disease that scares many, especially if we know other members of our family have had it. It is not an easy burden, given the fact that it accounts for up to 70 percent of cases of dementia.
Its causes are hardly known but in most cases it is believed to be a genetic disease. It is not easy to diagnose either and this can be done based on our family’s medical history and various behavioral patterns.
Up until now, scientists have struggled to find ways to detect it earlier in order to give the patients a chance to suffer from fewer complications associated with its advancement.
However, a team of researchers might have managed to do just that. Their study shows that Alzheimer’s disease can be detected long before it starts, which allows the patients to be treated more efficiently once it is spotted.
An Indian researcher, lead study author Kumar Bharat Rajan, who is also an assistant professor at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, said that the shifts in thinking and memory functions actually begin two decades before the disease kicks in.
The study involved 2125 people from Chicago, whose average age was 73. The subjects did not suffer from Alzheimer’s at first. For 18 years, these people had to take memory tests and their thinking processes were assessed every three years.
It was revealed that people who were later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease scored on the tests lower than the ones who remained mentally healthy. Moreover, the researchers observed that those who scored one unit lower than the limit imposed by the standardized cognitive test score had an 85 percent higher risk of developing dementia in the future.
Such changes in cognitive functions were not observed in people who were never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Thus, it is safe to say that people might have the possibility of monitoring their mental health as soon as they approach middle age. The sooner a person knows about it, the sooner they can do something about it, to prevent the severe symptoms associated with the disease.
The results of the study were published in the online journal Neurology.
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