Over the last few months there has been an exposure in new Alzheimer's research has been astounding. As the populate gets older, there is going to be a natural increase in diseases that affect seniors. Researchers have identified genes and proteins that can be early signals that a person has the potential for developing Alzheimer's and brain scans that can predict dementia.
The other important advancement has been the change in the diagnosis guidelines for Alzheimer's disease. In April, the National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Association changed their diagnosis guidelines for the first time in nearly 30 years. They now break Alzheimer's into three distinct stages. This shift will help with early identification and treatment treatment before the disease can get out of hand.
Historically, Alzheimer's has started when an individual starts showing signs of memory loss but can still function without incident. During this stage someone may have laps in short or long term memory or become distracted before snapping back. These events are often few and far between and go identified as any other than old age. However, chemical changes have already started taking place in the brain. At this point there is fewer treatment options has already begun. Medical researchers have only found ways to delay full blow dementia not stop it.
During the newly outlined first stage, the individual does not show any signs of memory loss yet there are already changes beginning to take place in the brain. Early tests, such as brain scans and blood tests, can detect biomarkers that signal potential risk down the road. These tests are similar to early detection tests for heart disease.
With the addition on this new first stage, there are more more potential treatment options. Just as important, is that they create Medicare cost codes that health insurers can use. This will be an indication for doctors to test patients with a high risk of Alzheimer's.
These new guidelines are not yet in full effect. There is still a lot of National Institute on Aging and Alzheimer's Association believe there is a lot of testing to do in order to fully understand the connection between biomarkers and the disease itself. For the moment, researchers around the world will be using these new guidelines for clinical trials.
The goal now is to take these new guidelines is the outline a path for research going forward. If all goes well, in the next few years new early detection tests will come online.