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Combination of available tests helps predict Alzheimer's disease risk
Date:10/20/2011

With age, forgetfulness and other signs of memory loss sometimes appear, prompting elderly individuals to seek a medical evaluation amid fears that they may be experiencing early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common type of dementia among Americans aged 65 and older.

But even when early memory problems suggest the potential for impending AD, the actual risk is variable. Some patients are at high risk while others are not. The challenge for doctors has long been to differentiate that risk so they can determine the appropriate course of management.

In a paper to be published in the October 25 issue of the journal Neurology, a team of physicians and scientists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and elsewhere describe using a combination of broadly available medical tests to produce a much improved predictive picture of the likelihood of impending AD in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia.

"I'm extremely excited about these results," said neurologist James Brewer, MD, PhD, an associate professor of radiology and neurosciences and part of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative research team at UC San Diego. "The good news is that we can partially reassure those folks who are negative on these tests, at least regarding their next three years. We have never been able to do that before. These individuals, despite having a real memory problem, have no greater risk of near-term dementia than a similarly aged healthy person without a memory complaint."

To determine the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease, the UC San Diego researchers compared risk factors based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neuropsychological testing. Unlike other efforts that have evaluated the predictive capabilities of research-bas
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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