One of the most common conditions that affect the elderly, dementia is surprisingly difficult to diagnose and treat in time. Its first symptoms can be mild and undetectable, and current testing methods are still unreliable, especially in the early stages of the disease. The same stands for the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.
However, recent studies seem to have discovered a blood test for dementia that could help diagnose both conditions.
About Dementia and Alzheimer’s
While many people consider these two terms as synonyms, it’s important to make a distinction between them. Dementia is a much wider term, and it includes other conditions like Lewy body dementia. Many forms of dementia are treatable (some are even reversible), while AD is a progressive disease that can’t be cured.
On the other hand, the diagnosis of these two conditions is quite similar, as it is focused mainly on assessing the patient’s cognitive ability. These assessments include testing of short-term memory, communication skills, orientation, and concentration. For dementia, doctors often require blood tests to exclude other conditions that may mimic its symptoms.
A Blood Test for Dementia
But, a discovery could change the way we discover dementia and Alzheimer’s. After analyzing eight different studies, the scientists from several European countries (Finland, France, Netherlands, and UK, among others) found that certain blood molecules could be used as biomarkers to detect dementia and AD in their early stages.
The study examined blood samples from more than 22 thousand people and found that high levels of certain branched-chain amino acids are linked with lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, while high levels of certain high-density lipoproteins were linked to a higher risk of both conditions.
The possibility of using a blood test for dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosis gives us a better understanding of these conditions. Not only that, but these discoveries could widen the search for new drugs we could use for Alzheimer’s and dementia.