To diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, examination and tests are done to assess mental abilities and rule out the factors such as symptoms, family history (medical), past and current health condition, past and current medication, lifestyle habits, diet and amount of alcohol intake
Various tests for Alzheimer’s disease
- Mental, physical, neurological and imaging tests are done to determine the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. However, there is no definitive test for the disease.
- A mental status test helps the physician to assess long and short-term memory and orientation of time and place. A simple test as of questioning on basic day-to-day topics and recollection of a short list of words may be done.
- Physical test such as blood pressure, ECG, and temperature test are conducted. Urine and blood samples may also be collected in some cases.
A neurological examination is done to rule out other possible conditions such as infection, stroke or other medical issues. Reflexes, speech and muscle tone will usually be checked.
A brain imaging study would be recommended in some cases to create pictures of the brain such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Computed Tomography (CT) scan.
- PET scan – The images of the scan helps the physician to detect plaque, a protein substance related to Alzheimer symptoms.
- MRI scan – MRI’s display key markers such as bleeding, inflammation and structural issues.
- CT scan – X-ray images are taken by CT scan to show abnormal characteristics in the brain.
To rule out the possibility of inherited diseases, a blood test would be done to check genes that might indicate a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.
Medication for Alzheimer’s disease
- Though there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, medication is recommended to treat and to help ease the symptoms and also to delay its progression.
- In cases of early to moderate Alzheimer’s, medication such as donepezil or rivastigmine is recommended. These medicines maintain high levels of acetylcholine in the brain, which helps aid memory.
- In cases of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s medication such as donepezil or memantine are prescribed. They help to block the effects of excessive glutamate, which causes damage to the brain cells when released in high amounts.
- Symptoms such as depression, aggression, restlessness, agitation, and hallucination related to Alzheimer’s are often treated with antidepressants, antipsychotics or antianxiety medication. It is believed that vitamin E can help prevent a decline in mental abilities but there is no proved theory about it so far.
- It is advisable to take any medication only after consulting the doctor.
There is neither a known cure nor a foolproof preventive measure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is important to focus more on the overall healthy lifestyle habits to prevent cognitive decline.
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding tobacco and alcohol
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Consuming additional antioxidants
- Maintaining an active social life
- Trying out cognitive training exercises
These measures help to make changes in lifestyle towards a healthy future and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.