What would you say if you could find out whether you have a predisposition to Alzheimer’s (AD) by taking a simple blood test? It just may be possible.

A report published in the Journal of American Medicine Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that a protein-like substance (beta-amyloid 42) has been found to build up in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Low levels of this substance indicate a less likely chance of developing AD, while higher levels exhibited higher percentages for predisposition of dementia.

At the moment there is no way to know for certain a person actually has Alzheimer’s disease until they have passed away and their brain can be examined. If the findings from this study prove to be true doctors will be able to know for certain their patient has Alzheimer’s, but can also test others for the possibility they may develop it later.

Scientists at the University of California in San Francisco conducted a nine-year study. In it, 1,000 people between the ages of 60-91, who showed no clinical indications, or very mild stages of memory lapse or some form of cognitive impairment were tested. Their object was to find out if they could predict future cognitive problems in people who currently show no symptoms through the use of the beta-amyloid 42 protein markers. The results reinforced similar studies conducted on those who had higher levels of the protein and showed signs of impairment. Lower amounts of beta-amyloid 42 in your blood indicate you have a lower risk for developing dementia.

An interesting offshoot from the study reinforced the belief that higher education, memory training, or high literacy levels showed a lower predisposition for dementia or memory decline. It showed for the first time that “high cognitive reserve,” the level of elasticity in the brain due to exercise or stimulation, could in fact reduce the risk of age-related memory loss in the elderly.

Memory techniques definitely could help fight off dementia. Just as the body needs exercise to improve muscle mass and keep working properly, the brain needs stimulation in order to be able to fight off disease. The brain is, after all, a muscle too!

Even if a blood test to determine pre-disposition to AD or other forms of dementia were negative, that doesn’t mean it is inevitable. A negative outcome only indicators that you MAY develop problems down the road. If you were to begin memory-training techniques, and play brain games you can still turn the tide on the outcome.

After working with so many people who are exhibiting early signs of dementia, and seeing the improvement in their memory and their lives, I can vouch for the fact the memory training and brain games do help, and highly recommend that a person begins as early as possible to start a regular brain exercise regime.

 

Sources:

Journal of the American Medical Association: Cerebrospinal Fluid tau/β-Amyloid42 Ratio as a Prediction of Cognitive Decline in Nondemented Older Adults: http://archneur.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/64/3/343?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=beta-amyloid+42%2C&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

AARPBoost Your Brain Health: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-01-2010/boost-brain-health.html