June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. If you suspect that you or a loved one might have Alzheimer’s disease, here’s what you need to know.
After decades of not making progress with pharmaceuticals for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are finally coming up with some promising results. There’s a brand new blood test for the disease that you can take instead of going through a series of expensive and sometimes painful tests. And there’s a brand new drug that delays cognitive decline in early stage Alzheimer’s. We still don’t have a cure, but there are a number of clinical trials that someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can enroll in.
Why it’s important to get diagnosed early
For a full explanation, click here to read a blog I posted August, 20202. https://barbracohn.com/blog/page/2/
Here are the bullet points:
- Cognitive problems can be caused by a number of physical conditions.
- Cognitive symptoms may be reversible.
- An early diagnosis is empowering as far as estate planning, and end-of-life planning, etc.
- An early diagnosis is easier for the physician to make when the patient is able to answer questions.
- Family and loved ones might be confused by particular behaviors which will be explained.
- An early diagnosis allows individuals to take advantage of support groups, and caregivers to learn ways to better manage medications, the environment, etc.
- Getting an early diagnosis provides the opportunity to enroll in a clinical trial.
- The patient can prioritize what is important to them while they are still able to make decisions.
What new tests are available to detect Alzheimer’s?
PrecivityAD is the first blood test for Alzheimer’s to be cleared for widespread use and one of a new generation of such assays that could enable early detection of the leading neurodegenerative disease—perhaps decades before the onset of the first symptoms. The test uses mass spectrometry to detect specific types of beta-amyloid, the protein fragment that is the culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. As plaques in the brain build up, levels of beta-amyloid decline in the surrounding fluid. The levels can be measured in spinal fluid samples. The new blood test can determine where beta-amyloid concentrations are significantly lower. PrecivityAd is designed to be used for people 60 to 91 years old with early signs of cognitive impairment.
How it works
- Your doctor orders the PrecivityAd blood test and schedules a blood draw appointment.
- Your blood sample is sent to the lab for analysis by mass spectrometry.
- Your doctor receives the report and discusses the results with you.
How much does it cost?
The test costs $1,250. Since it is new and is not currently covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, patients must pay out-of-pocket for the test. A six-month interest-free payment plan is available, and a financial assistance program is available for patients who medically and financially qualify. The assistance program can bring the costs down to between $25 and $400 for eligible patients.
Other causes for memory issues
One benefit of the PrecivityADTM blood test is that if Alzheimer’s markers
are not detected, additional costly tests may be avoidable and your physician can explore other causes for memory and cognitive issues. Other causes for memory issues include: hypothyroidism, head trauma or injury, certain medications or a combination of medications, emotional disorders, depression, strokes, amnesia, alcoholism, vitamin B012 deficiency, hydrocephalus, brain tumors, and other brain diseases.
New drug for delaying symptoms
The FDA recently approved a new drug for Alzheimer’s. Aducanumab isn’t a cure, but it’s the first drug to get this far in an approval process that actually modifies the underlying pathology of the disease, and helps delay cognitive decline in early stage Alzheimer’s. Read about it in my last post. https://wordpress.com/post/barbracohn.com/6470
Clinical research studies for people with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s
The objective of a clinical research study is to answer questions about the safety and effectiveness of potential new medications. These studies have to be completed before a new treatment is offered to the public. There are currently more than 3000,000 clinical studies taking place throughout the world.
For those who are qualified, taking part in research studies offers several benefits:
- Getting actively involved in their own health care
- Having access to potentially new research treatments
- Having access to expert medical care for the condition being studied, since investigators are often specialists in the disease area being studied
- Helping others by contributing to medical research
One way to find information about clinical trials is by searching this website: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. ClinicalTrials.gov is an interactive online database, managed by the National Library of Medicine. It provides information about both federally and privately supported clinical research. ClinicalTrials.gov is updated regularly and offers information on each trial’s purpose, who is qualified to participate, locations, and phone numbers to call for more information.
The Alzheimer’s Association also has a service called TrialMatch that provides customized lists of clinical studies based on user-provider information. The free, easy-to-use platform allows you to see which studies are a good fit for you or a family member.
Visit TrialMatch. You can also call 800.272.3900 or email TrialMatch@alz.org to get started. You’re under no obligation to participate. You can reach out to researchers directly to sign up, or let researchers know that you are open to being contacted with more information about their study. You can also browse available clinical studies by location and type, or sign up to be notified when new studies are posted that are relevant to you.