A new device may determine early whether a person has dementia or is at risk of developing the condition, which according to a June AARP.com article is “nonreversible decline in mental function.”
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia cause more deaths in seniors than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined - that from the Alzheimer’s Association. The organization also emphasizes, “early and accurate diagnosis could save up to $7.9 trillion in medical and care costs.”
A new device may determine early whether a person has dementia or is at risk of developing the condition, which according to a June AARP.com article is “nonreversible decline in mental function.” Alzheimer’s disease is simply the most common type of dementia, while there are other familiar forms such as vascular, Parkinson’s disease, alcohol-related and frontotemporal.
Until recently, doctors have primarily administered mental-skill challenges such as the Hopkins Verbal Learning
Test to verify whether cognitive areas are in decline, explains AARP. A five-minute neck scan could soon identify in middle-age people risks for developing dementia.
Research underway by University College London measures the intensity of pulsatile waves traveling through the major arteries supplying the brain. Already, ultrasound tests have been conducted on the necks of 3,192 individuals ages 58 to 74, shared everydayhealth.com Nov. 20: “Investigators found that participants with the highest pulse intensity in midlife had the fastest cognitive decline after up to 15 years of follow-up.
Their odds of having reduced cognitive function were up to 50 percent greater because the greater force of blood flow damaged the brain’s vessels.”
So far, the technology does not indicate whether a person will develop dementia, just that there is risk. However, if a person can learn that there is risk, he or she can work with a physician to potentially make lifestyle changes such as limiting smoking and alcohol and monitoring cholesterol, or begin a regimen of supplements or medications as a way to diminish risk or possibly combat dementia.
If made readily available, the neck scan ultrasound procedure could be administered by a general practitioner with minimal training on the device. Anyone with vascular ultrasound training will also be capable of performing the procedure, reports everydayhealth.com.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.