A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s
A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?
The pursuit of a test to help diagnose a patient for Alzheimer’s disease has been ongoing for more than 2 decades however scientists are closer than ever in meeting this goal. As recently as 2007, scientists confirmed that it was possible to diagnose Alzheimer’s with a blood test identifying features that are common among individuals with the disease. Early research in the development of a blood test for Alzheimer’s revealed that certain biomarkers can be identified in individuals exhibiting memory loss who also go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. These biomarkers come in the form of proteins found in the blood that will often develop distinguishing characteristics in individuals with specific diseases.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that gradually destroys an aging person’s ability to perform normal activities. These activities can include:
- Learning skills
- Basic reasoning skills
- Basic communication skills
Alzheimer’s and Behavior
Those individuals with Alzheimer’s are also likely to experience changes in behavior such as increased anxiety and paranoia, states of agitation and may also experience delusions and hallucinations. A person with Alzheimer’s may have trouble performing familiar tasks:
- Planning meals or paying bills
- Problems with language and may forget words, use unusual words as substitutes and may have trouble forming full sentences and coherent speech or writing.
- They may get lost in familiar neighborhoods, including their own and may be unable to find their way home.
- They may also become more anxious in unfamiliar environments.
- They may begin to exhibit poor judgment and decision making.
- They may dress inappropriately, such as wearing heavy clothing in the summer time, and may also begin to make poor financial decisions.
- Their ability to think abstractly will be lessened and it may be difficult to balance a checkbook or to play a complex board game.
- They may misplace items on a regular basis and may lose them in unusual places.
Blood Test on the Horizon
In early studies, researchers were able to identify at least 18 proteins that were characteristic of patients with Alzheimer’s. The blood test for Alzheimer’s that experts say is on the horizon for development and distribution in the next two years is based on a similar approach however, in this case, the test includes looking for the evidence of antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are immune molecules that attach themselves to proteins that a specific disease is most likely to attack. How these antibodies attach themselves to and attack specific proteins points to the disease itself. This blood test has already been used to identify Alzheimer’s in a small sample and will be ready for clinical trials before the end of 2011.
A person with Alzheimer’s may experience mood swings for no reason. They may experiences changes in personality, including the distrust of loved ones. These changes can sometimes be very drastic. And the person may show a lack of initiative. This may include sleeping more than normal or an increase in passive activities, such as watching TV. This also may include neglecting personal hygiene and important obligations.
There is no single cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are several factors that may play a role. Age is the biggest. At the age of sixty five, the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s increases and by the age of eighty five, the probability of having Alzheimer’s disease is nearly fifty percent. Family history is also important. Those who have siblings or parents with the disease are at greater risk of getting the disease. Scientists have located a gene that increases the risk, but does not guarantee that a patient will get Alzheimer’s.
Other health factors have been attributed to an increased risk of attaining Alzheimer’s. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, head injuries and brain health and education have all been linked to Alzheimer’s in various studies, though there is no exact correlation that has been proven.
There are many diagnostic tools and tests that may be used to screen patients for Alzheimer’s disease. A physician may administer series of tests to a patient over several days in order to diagnose the patient. Physicians can diagnose patients with an accuracy rate of around 90 percent. In addition, family members and friends of a patient may help by noticing the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s and getting the person to a doctor for a consultation. A person may also be able to notice these warning signs him or herself and go to a doctor for a full diagnosis.
A physician may test a patient for Alzheimer’s by administering certain tests. The physician may collect a full medical history, evaluate a patient’s mental function and psychiatric health, test basic physical skills, perform a physical examination and a brain scan and take blood and urine samples to diagnose any other medical problems that a patient may have.
As was noted earlier, memory loss is a key component of Alzheimer’s and can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the disease, for both the patient and his or her family and friends. At the onset of the disease, memory lapses may be small and infrequent. These can include forgetting the name of a person a patient may have recently met or a conversation with someone. As the disease progresses, the lapses become more frequent and more severe. Not only are new memories erased, but older ones are also erased. In severe cases, a patient may forget the names and faces of loved ones and how to perform favorite and basic activities.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, there are several medications that are being prescribed to improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. There are also alternative treatments that are being used by many in the medical community. These include herbal supplements and intervention treatment. Scientists and medical professionals are constantly researching Alzheimer’s, its causes, effects and symptoms. Breakthroughs are being made in understanding this disease and new medications are being tested for treatment of Alzheimer’s. Strategies for slowing or preventing the destruction associated with Alzheimer’s are being explored and the hope is high that they will be implemented soon and will be successful.