Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Diagnosing Alzheimer's timely

Alzheimer Brain

Diagnosing Alzheimer's before the onset of the symptoms gives us a new ray of hope as then, future treatments can target the disease when it is in its incipient stages, before any permanent damage has occurred. Research on strategies for early detection is still going on and would take some time before arriving at some conclusions regarding who would benefit from them and what all they reveal regarding the progress of it. However, to name a few, the bio markers test, neuroimaging (Brain imaging) and cognitive assessment tests have given us great hope.

With the progress that we have been making, we'll be doing wonders and Alzheimer’s will be predicted and treated, before it's too late.

Early Detection and its role

Many studies, researches and tests have been made to arrive at the following:

- The experts believe that the level of biological markers like Beta-amyloid and tau in cerebrospinal fluid are detectable by imaging and are seen to change at different stages of the disease.

- Blood samples were studied and seen to predict the disease 3 years in advance, while the protein levels in spinal fluid was seen to predict the same, 5 years in advance.

- Studies show that people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are on a significantly increased risk of developing it.

- Genetic risk profiling suggests three genes have been identified with rare variations causing Alzheimer's. APOE-e4 is the strongest risk gene.

- Molecular imaging compounds like Florbetaben (BAY 94-9172) and Pittsburgh compound B (PIB), the first radiotracer to highlight the deposits of beta-amyloid, the pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease during a PET scan are being studied too.

- Functional imaging research along with PET scan suggests that sufferers of Alzheimer's have reduced brain cell activity in certain regions. Like, Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET indicate that the disease is linked to reduced use of glucose in brain areas involved in memory, cognition and learning.

- Structural imaging has also shown that the brains of people with the disease, shrinks significantly with the progress and if in specific brain areas like hippocampus, it may be an early indication.

Worst- case scenario

With the progress of disease, the conditions become worse from severe to a point where the victims become handicapped to rely on their care takers for daily chores. Delusions and hallucinations add to their problems making them dependent, leading a crippled life both emotionally and physically.

Early detection making a difference

It helps one:

- Plan their future and make big decisions while they still can. For example, managing their finances or other family related affairs.

- Have timely access to medical services, advice and support.

- Risk reduction: Taking preventions, keeping the possibilities in mind.

- Also, they get to decide if they want to make a difference for people going through the same by signing for clinical trials at their own will.

The future is bright!

Will it not be a boom to detect a degenerative disease as progressive as Alzheimer?

The results so far have given us a hope that the future treatments can target it in its initial stages, before irreversible damage has been made.