A new test could possibly help predict Alzheimer's disease

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A New Test Could Help Predict Alzheimer's Disease

A new test may help predict who is at risk for Alzheimer's disease.

ABC explains, "It measures a patient's risk of mental impairment based on several factors, including how quickly the patient can walk a short distance."

What's especially promising about this new test is that most physicians can do it at their offices -- which is a big deal, considering the testing methods today are often more involved.

Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the Mayo Clinic, told Time, "We have either expensive techniques or invasive techniques and it's not practical to do them from a public health screening standpoint."

Here's how the study was run: Researchers at the Mayo Clinic randomly selected over 1,400 people between the ages 70 and 89 back in 2004. During the course of this longitudinal study, participants were evaluated with a mental exam. Researchers said the high scorers on the test of risk factors had a seven times greater chance of developing mild cognitive impairment than the low scorers.

Researchers also recorded information from the participant's medical charts, including age, family history of Alzheimer's, current memory problems as well as other factors. The goal of the study is to create a simple way for physicians to monitor their patients and flag potential signs of the disease early on.

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia and starts years before the first symptoms are seen. It affects millions worldwide.

Although there's not a cure yet, International Business Times explains a new treatment that's being tested on mice.

"The researchers have created a non-invasive method using ultrasound for removing neurotoxic amyloid plaques, structures that are responsible for cognitive failure and memory loss, observed in Alzheimer's patients."

Memory functions of 75 percent of the mice tested using that ultrasound technique were restored completely.

Animal trials for that method are expected to continue through 2017. In the meantime, doctors say more research is needed for both that treatment and the new prediction test before they would recommend them to patients.

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