Alzheimer’s disease is a pathology for which there is no cure, only being detected when it is already installed and when the symptoms are already visible. The onset of the disease is strongly associated with age, and the senior population is more susceptible to the development of diseases related to dementia.
There is no specific test to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnosis includes a detailed medical history, a thorough physical and neurological examination (complementary imaging methods such as CT, MRI, SPECT and PET), intellectual functioning examination, psychiatric evaluation, neuropsychological evaluation, and laboratory tests on blood and urine.
Blood tests that are part of routine Alzheimer’s diagnosis: anemia, liver function, electrolyte balance (salt and water), vitamin B12 deficiency, thyroid function. The analysis of neurochemical markers – β-amyloid substance (Aβ1-40 and Aβ1-42), total TAU protein, phosphorylated TAU protein (P-TAU), Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio and ApoE genotyping – allows early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, with a sensitivity of 94 to 100%. The search for these markers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is one of the most widely used diagnostic tools.
All these tests will help to rule out the existence of other diseases, which have similar symptoms. After eliminating other causes, the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is thus completed with an accuracy of 80% to 90%. The diagnosis can only be confirmed after the person’s death, through observation of brain tissue.
Detecting Alzheimer’s disease in its early stage allows it to be monitored and slows progress, contributing to an improved quality of life for patients.
An article by Germano de Sousa, a specialist in Clinical Pathology.