Identifying Dementia Nearly a Decade Prior to Diagnosis, According to New Study

Joel Eisenberg

A new Cambridge study discusses warning signs and early treatment options.

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Author's Note

It is imperative for anyone who suffers from a brain or memory disorder of any type, suspected or otherwise, to visit their doctor. No medical advice will be offered herein on the part of the author.

All listed theories and facts within this article are fully-attributed to several medical experts and scientists as listed within the following outlets: TheConversation.com, Yahoo.com, Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association, and MedicalNewsToday.com.

Introduction

I have written extensively about dementia and Alzheimer's Disease for NewsBreak. In my previous article on the matter, I excerpted an October 4th piece from TheConversation.com, “New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Cognitive Decline – and May be Available as Early as Next Year,” which detailed the early promise of a pioneering treatment: Lecanemab is the first drug to help improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s by slowing the disease. These are very promising results, although the only data we have at the moment is from the drugmaker’s press release. Lecanemab is an antibody that finds and removes a protein called amyloid that builds up and forms clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. By targeting amyloid, lecanemab is striking at the heart of the disease itself, rather than just treating symptoms by boosting brain chemicals in the cells that are still working (as is the case with drugs currently prescribed for Alzheimer’s).

On the heels of this news comes a related study that claims to determine the illnesses prior to a formal diagnosis.

Let us explore further.

New Dementia Study

An October 13th piece shared by Yahoo News, entitled "New Study Indicates Dementia Signs Can Be Detected Nearly a Decade Before Diagnosis," indicates various symptoms and procedures determined to identify the illness well prior to formal treatment.

As excerpted from the article: A new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge indicates it may be possible to detect dementia within a patient nearly a decade before they are diagnosed. The findings now make it possible to screen at-risk patients who qualify for early medical treatment to reduce their risk of dementia. Moreover, new treatments have the potential to become more widely available for clinical trials. The study was published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. Researchers used information from the U.K. Biobank database to look for impairments relating to dementia, including problem-solving and number recall.

MedicalNewsToday.com's "Dementia: How Falls, Poorer Health May Help Predict Earlier Diagnosis Up to 9 Years" delves deeper into the study: According to Dr. Tim Rittman, senior clinical research fellow in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, honorary neurology consultant at the Addenbrookes Memory Clinic in Cambridge, and senior author of this study, the team was trying to find how early it is possible to detect changes in memory, thinking, and day-to-day function that might be caused by a progressive brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other similar conditions. “Some evidence from genetic types of dementia suggests that changes happen years before the diagnosis is made, but until now it has been much more difficult to prove this is true for non-genetic types of dementia and other progressive brain diseases,” Dr. Rittman continued.

The article goes on to state the earlier such signs are noticed, the earlier formal tests can be applied and the quicker treatment can be assumed: “At the moment, we would like to see people use these tests to select people for clinical trials of drugs to slow or stop progressive brain diseases,” he said. “We would also like to see these tests choose people for diet and lifestyle change to try and prevent future decline in progressive brain diseases to preserve memory, thinking, and mobility,” Rittman added.

Conclusion

As I had mentioned in prior articles on the topic, many of us have or have had relatives or friends with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. As such, empathy is of immense importance on this journey, for all involved parties.

As for the claims of this latest study, I will share updates on this most recent study, here on NewsBreak, as they are reported.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA
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