Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Trouble With Early Screening for Alzheimer’s


This article on the Wall Street Journal Health blog compliments my previous article on the topic, How Soon Is Too Soon to Screen People for Alzheimer's Disease?

Joe Mantone wrote a clean and concise article about this issue. He also has a poll on the issue,
Health Blog Poll: Would you have your memory tested at your doctor’s office when you turn 65?
If you have the time, please go over and register your vote. I am in interested in tracking the results.
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The Trouble With Early Screening for Alzheimer’s

Testing for Alzheimer’s disease seems like it can’t hurt, but some say it can, the WSJ’s Shirley S. Wang writes.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, for one, holds a national memory-screening day each year. “What we’re trying to do now is make memory screening a part of the actual physical process,” Eric Hall, the foundation’s CEO tells the WSJ. “What would be so terribly wrong with doctors capturing a baseline memory score for future reference?”

Well, Bill Thies of the Alzheimer’s Association says the worry is that patients may react to signs of the disease in “inappropriate” ways. “Will they become fully depressed?” he says. “If that’s the case, then you’re going to obscure any public-health benefit.”

Those who are for early screening say it’s quick, easy and can identify patients who need further evaluation. The tests can be as simple as recalling a few words.

However, some of those who are against screening say there’s a lack of systematic follow-up or options for treatment. Available medicines appear to help those who already showing clear signs of the disease, so some feel that there’s not much that can be done after early detection.

Some also worry that a positive result on an Alzheimer’s test could be held against them, causing the loss of a job or car insurance, for instance.

Health Blog Poll: Would you have your memory tested at your doctor’s office when you turn 65?

YES, as part of a routine physical

MAYBE, if I suspected some memory problems

NO, I don’t think it’s worth it

Go Vote

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