Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is a blood test for Alzheimer's coming?

I do my best to keep up on the latest research and answers in Alzheimer's and other diseases that frequently are found in aging adults. Frequently I read about research and findings related to Alzheimer's disease, but they seem to be tiny pieces of a very large puzzle that hasn't come together yet.

When I read about things researchers have found in relation to Alzheimer's I am careful not to post every single finding because many are still in the "We Think" stage. That's what I call it because it's nothing really concrete that will either diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure Alzheimer's. Researchers believe (same as "We Think") that certain supplements, or actions will prevent or delay Alzheimer's. Do those things really help? There are no concrete facts and to make people believe that there is a true way to prevent Alzheimer's is very misleading, because there is no confirmed way to prevent the illness.

As a chronically sick person myself I understand waiting for the research to finally find the cause, treatment or cure. I also understand the desperation of trying anything to get better. The problem with that is twofold. One is the emotional roller coaster of having new and exciting hope only to discover whatever we are hanging our hope on is of no benefit. Second is the incredible amount of time and expense we go to, to have access to the latest treatment, or hopeful cure.

My own experience chasing and using hopeful treatments left me broke, depressed and disillusioned, after spending 8 months and thousands of dollars on IV's, injections, supplements and physician consultations, only to be left at the starting point, again. I am much more careful about jumping on the latest "treatment" or "cure".

My experience helps me discern which research findings I post and which I don't. With all that said, they may be onto something good here with a new diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer's. This doesn't help those who have already contracted the disease, but it may clarify the cause of those with undiagnosed dementia.

What most of us don't understand is that diagnostic tests are done to diagnose and/or treat a symptomatic health condition. Right now the use of a diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer's can only let us know if we are likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease, are in the early stages, or that Alzheimer's is in fact the cause of undiagnosed dementia. It still doesn't have a treatment or cure based on the results of the test.

The blood test is specifically looking for hormone production of the DHEA hormone, which was found different in person's with Alzheimer's. Basically if oxygen is added to DHEA in healthy individuals it is able to reproduce, and it doesn't reproduce in person's with Alzheimer's. This doesn't give any information about the cause of AD, it is only a finding that can help tell if someone is in early to late stages of AD.

This is improvement even though it doesn't indicate the cause or any treatments or cures, simply because there are lots of causes of dementia and Alzheimer's has been diagnosed as the cause when all other possible causes that can be found are not present. It helps individuals know early on whether the dementia is irreversible or possibly reversible. It rules out Alzheimer's in those who have dementia from another cause.

Keep in mind as you look for answers, preventative treatments, and cures, if there is a real concrete treatment or cure it will be BIG news. I believe the puzzle pieces currently found are moving us to answers that will either prevent, treat, or cure the disease, but when that will come, who's to know?

To access the full article on the research and findings of this new diagnostic blood test, go to;
Blood test for Alzheimer's: Study identifies procedure that detects early stages

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