Why early detection matters
With grim prognoses and very limited treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, early detection may not seem particularly advantageous. But that may be changing—fast. One of the hottest areas of Alzheimer’s research involves treating people who exhibit early signs of Alzheimer’s with drugs that decrease the production of amyloid beta (proteins that bunch together to form damaging plaques in the brain). Experts believe that people begin to develop amyloid plaques in their brains at least 10 years before they develop any obvious Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Reisa Sperling, MD, director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is leading a clinical trial called the A4 study, which evaluates patients with evidence of Alzheimer’s damage in the brain but who still have normal thinking and memory function. “When a person already has a lot of memory trouble, they already have significant neuron loss,” says Dr. Sperling. “We need to find and treat people much earlier.” The study, which originally launched in 2014, was extended and tweaked in 2017. For the newly modified version, researchers are testing an increased dosage of solanezumab, the antibody that targets the accumulation of amyloid in the brain, to see whether it can slow down Alzheimer’s symptoms before they become more apparent. Watch out for the following 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Worrying about your memory
Memory issues are among the more well-known Alzheimer’s symptoms. Harvard researchers have found that people who are concerned about their own memory and thinking are, in fact, more likely to have signs of Alzheimer’s plaques in their brain and develop dementia symptoms later. The bottom line: If you think you have a problem, get yourself checked out by a medical professional. Here are 6 signs your family member’s forgetfulness is actually Alzheimer’s.