As research towards early detection of Alzheimer's disease has improved, scientists say that early detection of symptoms could be the key to treating the disease.
Dr. Scott N. Losk, a nationally-recognized neuropsychologist and clinical psychologist with Summit Research Network, said that studies are being carried out to detect markers in the brain that show possible Alzheimer's disease before a person begins experiencing dementia.
PET (positron emission tomography) scanning is being carried out in studies to detect amyloids, a plaque on the brain often identified in Alzheimer's patients.
In 2013, the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and the Alzheimer's Association Amyloid Imaging Taskforce concluded that amyloid imaging could "potentially be helpful in the diagnosis of people with cognitive impairment when considered along with other clinical information, and when performed according to standardized protocols by trained staff," according to the Alzheimer's Association.
"The hope is future treatments could then target the disease in its earliest stages, before irreversible brain damage or mental decline has occurred. Research on new strategies for earlier diagnosis is among the most active areas in Alzheimer's science," it concluded.
Dr. Scott N. Losk, who has conducted over 50 clinical trials, said early detection and the ability to treat the disease are two major movements in Alzheimer's research.
Losk said people who have a family history of the disease or who suffer from anxiety or depression can make lifestyle changes to improve their brain function. The suggested lifestyle changes include limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, eating healthy, exercising regularly and increasing social engagement.
"Anything that's heart healthy is brain healthy," Losk said.