A new study out of the Keck School of Medicine has found a way for patients to walk into their doctor’s office perfectly healthy and walk out with a diagnosis, pretty much no matter what their symptoms are.
And next, they could find themselves on the fast track to dealing with one of the most disabling and life-changing conditions out there — Alzheimer’s disease!
According to this new research, it doesn’t take much to get that dreaded news — and you could be next very easily.
No, I’m not kidding.
It’s the latest approach in trying to diagnose this terrible disease as early as possible — which sounds like it would be a good thing.
The researchers are hoping, based on this study, that doctors will start incorporating early cognitive testing to detect Alzheimer’s in people who have no symptoms of dementia at all.
But there are some big reasons why this is the worst idea to come along since bloodletting was considered the gold standard of medical care.
The first thing wrong with this harebrained scheme is that Alzheimer’s is a disease that can really only be detected by physically examining the brain — which can only happen when it’s already way too late.
A short time ago, I told you how Aricept, the risky FDA-approved dud drug for Alzheimer’s, is being used more and more off-label for a condition called “mild cognitive impairment,” or MCI.
Now, MCI covers a lot of territory. Lost your glasses or forgot where you put the car keys? It could be MCI!
But what Dr. Duke Han and his team at Keck are proposing goes way beyond even that. Heck, for Dr. Han to call for a test of your “cognitive function,” you don’t need to have forgotten a darn thing!
Your mind could still be a steel trap — but he could still figure out a way to slap an Alzheimer’s diagnosis on you anyway.
Dr. Han’s research consisted of reviewing 61 previously done studies in which patients were given “neuropsychological tests” followed by either brain scans or spinal fluid testing.
Those patients whose brains showed any signs of “amyloid plaques” also hadn’t performed absolutely perfectly — scoring anything less than 100 percent — on different kinds of cognitive testing.
That, he said, is a “solid argument” for seniors to be receiving a battery of mental tests during routine doctor visits. That “early detection,” the doctor said, could give patients “precious time” so they can start taking drugs even earlier for, you know, their “condition.”
Wow, Dr. Han, I could give you a whole bunch of solid arguments as to why that’s a giant slice of baloney! But let’s just take one finding that has been proven many times over the years: Plenty of perfectly healthy, mentally sharp seniors have amyloid deposits in their brains.
That was shown to be true again just last year when the results of the “90+ study” out of the University of California was released. At the time, one of the researchers said that plaques can be found in the brains of the elderly “who are cognitively normal or even superior.”
This certainly isn’t the first time that some kind of quickie Alzheimer’s test has been proposed. And they all lead down the same path, right to Big Pharma’s door.
But absolutely no one should be taking dangerous drugs based on scoring poorly on some test.
As I recently told you, the meds dispensed to Alzheimer’s and even early dementia patients are so risky and can cause so many life-threatening side effects that many experts say even those who very likely have the disease shouldn’t be taking them!
But there are also some other very good reasons why, should your doctor propose one of these mental tests for dementia, you should run in the other direction.
#1: As we’ve told you, many drugs can cause symptoms of dementia that mysteriously disappear when patients stop taking them. Top offenders include a class known as “benzos,” such as tranquillizers, antidepressants and sleeping meds with familiar names such as Valium, Xanax, Ambien and Lunesta.
#2: Along with numerous drugs, certain diseases — particularly Lyme disease — can also mimic dementia and Alzheimer’s. Actor Kris Kristofferson was convinced that his progressive memory loss was due to Alzheimer’s, but when he finally got treated for Lyme, he returned to normal.
#3: Cognitive tests are highly subjective and in no way should be used to start someone up on a terribly risky med, or, to even suggest someone may have Alzheimer’s.
Even if you show all of the signs of Alzheimer’s — the memory loss and confusion, the changes in how you act, speak, and even walk — there are many ways to protect your brain from further damage and protect your precious memories.
Getting regular exercise is vital for the health of your brain, as well as your body, if you want to keep acing your friends on Jeopardy! And getting sufficient amounts of vitamin D from sunlight or supplements (at least 2,000 IUs daily), along with omega-3 fatty acids, is another very important thing you can do to protect your ability to think and remember.
“Detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms emerge” Keck Medicine of USC, May 31, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com