30-Second Alzheimer's Test in the Works

Could predict risk decades before symptoms show
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 12, 2010 9:13 AM CST
A new, quick test could predict Alzheimer's risk.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A new test could predict a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s decades before symptoms appear—and it only takes half a minute, the Daily Telegraph reports. A London scientist identified a group of otherwise healthy people in their 40s whose brain scans revealed tiny lesions in the memory hub, similar to those found in post-mortem exams of Alzheimer's patients. He then had these patients take a quick computer test designed to evaluate reaction times; they showed a range of reaction times, while their lesion-free peers’ reactions were either consistently fast or slow.

These 30-second Alzheimer’s screenings could be available to forty-somethings within two years: Patients would visit their doctor's office and be tested using a computer. The earlier diagnosis could allow patients to take preventative steps like changing their diet and getting exercise. “The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset,” said the researcher.

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