Fall 2023 In the most recent Fall 2023 issue of Pittsburgh 55+ Magazine, Neurosurgeon and Wellness expert, Dr. Joseph Maroon, discusses the importance of early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease. In his article, entitled, Why Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is NOW So Important, Dr. Maroon points out that the recent drug, Leqembi, was only found to have some success in stabilizing memory decline in those with early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. He goes on to describe how long the typical delay is for most people who begin to have symptoms and are the finally diagnosed with the disease. See excerpt below:
Why Early Diagnosis is Better
People with dementia can live meaningful and productive lives for many years after an early diagnosis. An early diagnosis helps both the person and caregivers learn about dementia, set realistic expectations and plan for their future together. In addition, as seen with the results for the drug, Leqembi, improved cognitive function was only found to be significant for those in the early phase of the disease. Therefore, it is critical to obtain an accurate diagnosis at the first sign of dementia symptoms. In many instances, Alzheimer’s disease can go undiagnosed for several years. According to research produced by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the average amount of time between when diagnosis is made and when symptoms start is approximately 2.8 years
Dr. Maroon goes on to described the drug Leqembi’s requirements for being diagnosed prior to starting this medication for Alzheimer’s disease plaque. See excerpt below:
Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease that afflicts over 6.7 million older Americans generally over the age of 65 and is rapidly increasing due to our aging population. The Medicare approval to pay for the drug requires being diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia. This requirement is due to the initial research results using Leqembi show only this group demonstrated significant cognitive improvement. In addition, specialized brain scans, such as a PET or MRI, must be done to document evidence of beta-amyloid plaque, the abnormal protein found in the brain, of those with Alzheimer’s disease.
The importance of early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease goes beyond starting medication. We know that prevention of Alzheimers’ disease is both possible and much more preferable. Changing lifestyle, diet, stress levels and improved sleep all have shown, independently of each other, to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s along with most other chronic diseases we suffer. Learn more about a prevention lifestyle HERE.