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Would You Want to Know if You Were Going to Get Alzheimer’s?

Would You Want to Know if You Were Going to Get Alzheimer’s?

Apparently, the contents of our blood can tell us a lot more than we ever thought possible. Recently, new research has shown that certain chemicals appear in the body when death is relatively close. Even newer research can now tell you if you’re going to develop Alzheimer’s later in life.

On Sunday, scientists reported in the journal “Nature Medicine” that they can identify people in their 70s who will develop Alzheimer’s later on.

For a long time, doctors have been able to predict who will develop the disease. Even before memory loss strikes, doctors can do a spinal tap or MRI to detect early signs. However, both procedures are time consuming, expensive, painful and carry potential risks. This test is a simple blood test which is neither expensive, painful, nor time consuming.

Dr. Howard Federoff, professor of neurology at Georgetown University, and his team developed this test by taking blood samples from 525 people aged 70 and over. They followed the patients over five years to see who developed Alzheimer’s and who didn’t. As it turns out, those who contracted the disease had 10 blood lipids that predicted its onset.

Another positive to the test is that it is over 90 percent accurate, which could be a game changer, according to Federoff. With such accuracy and simplicity, this test is a huge advancement for the medical community.

However, it will only be a “game changer” if scientists can find a cure for the disease. Right now, there is no cure, so this knowledge can only help inform patients of their risk but cannot help them fix the problem. This comes with a host of other issues. As it turns out, this knowledge is powerful; those who know they have the Alzheimer’s gene tend to rate their own memory skills as much worse than those have the gene but are unaware.

This self-diagnosis can also decrease performance on memory tests. Furthermore, there is quite a bit of stigma associated with Alzheimer’s, so one has to consider how family and friends will treat the patient if they know the risk is present. It seems, all in all, that — for now — this test is more of a death sentence than something that will help people.

Of course, knowing you will probably develop Alzheimer’s can help in some ways. It can dictate how you spend or save your money, who you have in charge of your estate, or when and where you retire. As with any disease, surrounding yourself with family and friends whom you trust is extremely important.

Whether or not to know you are at risk for disease or death is an extremely difficult decision to make. Would you want to know?

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Photo Credit: VinothChandar

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268 comments

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5:51AM PDT on Mar 21, 2014

An MRI is neither time consuming nor painful, I've had three MRI's to date and the most 'painful' aspect of them is the noise which gave me head aches after each one. The longest was one I had on my brain which used contrast dye this was 40 mins, the shortest was just under 30mins and that was a fully body muscle scan. There is little risk associated with an MRI which has NOTHING to do with x-rays (though if you're having the contrast dye that is mildly radioactive but not in any harmful way), an MRI machine works with the use of magnetic fields. Some people would find them claustrophobic and due to the sudden loud noises they can cause anxiety but other then that there is NO risk. Don't misrepresent important medical scans just because you disagree with them, an MRI can save your life and detects a hell of a lot more then just Alzheimer's.

10:39AM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Grazie.

11:14AM PDT on Mar 17, 2014

I would definitely want to know! I was at the questionable mercy of strangers when I was a child. I don't want the end of my life to be like that as well. If I developed Alzheimer's, leading to a death of the personality, I would find a way to remove myself from life. I know very well that when one leaves loved ones w/strangers, the loved ones may easily be abused.

12:16AM PDT on Mar 16, 2014

I'm not quite sure that a good many nights' sleep would be lost if one knew negative results and not sure that being able to plan ahead would be the good solution.....knowing would just add more stress to one's life.

12:57PM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

When you remove mystery from life you destroy hope. We're not meant to know what the ffuture holds and if we do it will be destructive.

8:14AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

I'd be willing to take this test. It would help my daughter and I plan for my care. I do not want her to be burdened more than necessary. I would educate her about the symptoms, so she would know when it was time for me to have more care than she could provide.

10:50PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

No Way! I don't want to know anything negative about my health if there is no cure!! I most certainly don't want to waste life NOW worrying about it! There comes a time when you have to face things, but once you have a diagnosis, it is often the time when people just give up and go downhill! Until people around you start to warn you that you are going potty, why not just live life happily and then deal with it when you have to? Normally Alzheimers doesn't come on over night, so you have plenty of time before you get too fuddled to manage your ffairs. I have told my family to let me know imdediately when they think I might be losing the plot. ( Naturally, they went into the usual, " Mum, you went potty YEARS ago!" thing, but I nkow that when it really came to it, they would tell me and I would then see if there was anything that I could do about it Maybe soon there will be a definite cure. Until then I am eating ginko and have a good diet ( mostly!!) and taking exercise and trying to use my brain, such as it is! Thinking about Care 2 issues is a very good thing for our brains and I notice that many of our best and most intelligent Care 2 ers are in their 50s and 60s which might back up my theory!

7:52PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

I would take the test tomorrow. Either way, there's comfort and release of fear if the test is negative. There is time to plan and do and be all the things I want and to insure that my wishes for my final days will be followed.

7:08PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

Yes,I would like to know. Thank-you for sharing this article.

6:52PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

It would be nice to know if I was at risk of getting Alzheimer's, but no matter what it is not a certainty. So yes I would want to know if I had a higher risk than others.

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