Test for early signs of Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on January 13th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new test has been developed that researchers claim can spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Completed online or by hand, the 15-minute assessment can be taken at home and tests language ability, reasoning, problem-solving skills and memory.

Currently Alzheimer’s is mainly diagnosed through in depth cognitive testing. But researchers at Ohio State University, who developed the simple test, said it worked equally well. While the test cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, it does flag up problems to doctors, which they can then monitor over time. You can view the original article that was published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

The test allows for quick and easy checks that could be administered once in a while to large numbers of people. “We can give the test periodically and, the moment we notice any change in cognitive ability, we can intervene much more rapidly,” said Dr Douglas Scharre, who led the project.

The team visited 45 community events in the US where they asked people to take the test. Of the 1,047 over-50s who participated, 28 percent were identified as having some form of cognitive impairment. Participants were tested on what date it was, their verbal fluency, simple calculations and reasoning. They were also asked to draw to assess their spatial awareness and memory.

Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Simon Ridley, said: “Further research is needed to confirm whether the test would be suitable to assess and track changes in people’s memory and thinking skills.” Although commending the initiative, Dr Ridley noted that people who are worried about their memory should seek advice from a doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis with a test at home.

You can view the test here.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's test, Ohio State University

Avoid online diagnosis tests for Alzheimer’s, researchers warn

Posted under Uncategorized on July 17th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Researchers have warned against the use of free online tests claiming to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, cautioning that they are scientifically invalid and could be harmful to those who take part. Many of these tests claim to be able to diagnose the condition with a memory quiz of just 10 or 20 questions.  

Scientists led by Dr Julie Robillard, from the University of British Columbia, reviewed 16 online tests hosted on sites with up to nine million users. The team’s findings were released at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston.

The tests were scored on a reliability scale from one (very poor) to 10 (excellent). Twelve of the tests were rated as poor or very poor.

In addition, every test had "poor" or "very poor" scores for ethical factors which included consent and conflicts of interest.

“Doctors rely on a complex set of mental and physical tests, sometimes including brain scans, to determine if a patient has the condition,” said Dr Robillard. “There is no test that you can do sitting at a computer by yourself.”

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK, said: "It is understandable that people sometimes might want to turn to the internet for help if they are worried about their health. But what this research shows once more is that people need to be careful when considering online tests for Alzheimer's.

"Scientifically unsound tests could potentially give a false diagnosis while offering no emotional support, which could be devastating for the person carrying it out.

"If people are worried about their memory, or any cognitive problem, it is important that they go and see their GP. Only then can they get a proper diagnosis which will open the door to information, support and potentially treatments which can enable people to live well with dementia."

An estimated 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. It is estimated that this figure could reach 13.8 million by 2050. 

Tags: Alzheimer's diagnosis, Alzheimer's symptoms, Alzheimer's test



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