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Alzheimer’s Patients Often Self-Diagnose Years Before Doctors Do

In a study of around 200 older people, researchers found that those who reported the most memory problems also had the highest levels of beta amyloid in their brain

Self-diagnosing using the internet and perceived symptoms is a notoriously error-laden pursuit. Alzheimer’s disease, however, may be an exception. In some cases, patients self-diagnose years before doctors confirm their symptoms as indications that Alzheimer’s has set in, according to research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston. Here’s NBC

Not to scare anyone – especially the 1 in 8 baby boomers who report memory problems, according to a recent report – but patients’ own concerns may predate clinical changes in the brain and in cognitive functions that may indicate disease, the findings suggest. In other words, people who think they have Alzheimer’s disease just might be right.

In a study of around 200 people in their 70s and 80s, researchers found that those who reported the most memory problems also had the highest levels of beta amyloid—the tell-tale protein build up that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease—in their brains.

The researchers emphasize that everyone has the occasional lapse of memory—misplacing a set of keys, forgetting the name of a co-worker’s spouse—and that those small memory glitches alone should not trigger an alarm. But if those memory lapses become a weekly or daily occurrence, it’s worth taking a closer look at the early detection signs of the disease and bringing those concerns, insistently, to a doctor.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Secret to Olive Oil’s Anti-Alzheimer’s Properties  
Alzheimer’s Disease Advance 

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