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Early diagnosis of Alzheimer's may be possible in light of new findings

May 20, 2013

Of all the threats to healthy aging, few are more prominent than Alzheimer's disease. An estimated 5.4 million Americans currently live with the condition, and researchers are continuously looking for a cure. Early detection has also been one of the main focuses of the medical community, and a team of experts from Washington University in St. Louis believes it has proven a series of biological markers can predict who will develop Alzheimer's disease.

Identifying Alzheimer's early is important for a number of reasons. Not only can it help experts administer treatment, it allows patients to plan for services such as memory care and assisted living. These most recent findings drew from extensive analysis of the spinal fluid of more than 200 study subjects and found factors such as the level of certain proteins in the fluid - including amyloid fragments are signals of potential problems. They were also interested in the buildup of amyloid proteins in the brain, which is often associated with the condition.

"We wanted to see if one marker was better than the other in predicting which of our participants would get cognitive impairment and when they would get it," said researcher Dr. Catherine Roe. "We found no differences in the accuracy of the biomarkers."

Aside from these biomarkers, those in the medical community have identified several other potential risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, your lifestyle can also play a significant role in raising your risk. While there's no concrete evidence, experts have pointed to choices such as lack of exercise, a diet high in cholesterol and little social engagement as potential detriments to cognitive health.