A new test may be an important tool in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. A study reported in Clinical Electroencephalography highlights the use of an electrical brain test to detect the disease earlier, which may lead to improved treatment. The test, known as an electrophysiological test, detects impaired memory, which is known to precede the disease.
Researchers found 65 percent of patients with impaired memory would have been missed by using traditional methods of memory testing. They say the new method, called P300 latency testing, was more sensitive at detecting changes in cerebral function.
The authors of the study from New York and the University of North Texas are confident this new testing method may be able to partially reverse Alzheimer's. It is well documented that if Alzheimer's is caught early, some medications can slow the process. This study is particularly important because the number of people aged 60 years and older will increase from one in 10 currently to one in six by the year 2050. After age 60, the incidence of dementia doubles every five years. Therefore, detecting and treating memory loss early could delay or avoid the onset of Alzheimer's. The researchers say dementia is the fourth-leading cause of death.
According to the study, the P300 latency test should be used as a screening tool. The authors say it is a 15-minute test that can easily be added to a medical visit.