Until now, doctors were able to find out about Alzheimer's disease through symptoms such as problems with memory or thinking, but now doctors may be able to diagnose Alzheimer's through abnormal brain scans in patients who are not exhibiting behavioral symptoms.
The current symptom-based diagnosis "is really a representation of a disease process that's been happening in the body for potentially 10 to 20 years," says Maria Carrillo, vice president of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association.
The process points at accumulation of amyloid plaques or neurofibrillary tangles in the brain and ultimately death of brain cells.
Carrillo said now doctors can see the onset of the problem through brain scans, tests of spinal fluid or blood and other so-called biomarkers. These markers "can tell us that underlying biology is really changing in the body before memory starts to change," she says.
A new study has also revealed that Alzheimer's disease is affecting more people in the United States. As per Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, the disease is the sixth major killer in the country.
But another startling fact is that it affects more women than men. It said 1 out of 6 women have disease in some form by 65 years. It said 5 million people suffer from Alzheimer's or some of its form.
Alzheimer's affects a person's memory, communication skills and executive functions.