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Alzheimer's Disease

Tests for Alzheimer`s Disease

04/16/1999

Question:

Please tell me what tests should be done before a definite diagnosis of Alzheimer`s disease is made?

Answer:

Thank you for your inquiry. You ask a very important question. Since there is no single diagnostic test for Alzheimer`s disease (AD), a complete medical and neurological examination is strongly recommended to account for dementia (memory loss) symptoms. Guidelines provided by the National Alzheimer`s Association for a complete evaluation include: *A detailed medical history, provided by the patient and someone who is well acquainted with the patient. This is necessary to establish progressive intellectual deterioration and identify personality changes, problems with memory and difficulty with daily activities. *A thorough physical and neurological examination, including testing of sensory and motor systems to rule out other disorders. *A mental status test essential to evaluate orientation, attention, recent recall and the ability to calculate, read, write, name, copy drawings, repeat, understand and make judgments. *A psychiatric assessment to rule out psychiatric disorders. *Neuropsychological testing to measure a variety of functions including attention, orientation, language skills and perception. *Routine laboratory tests, including blood work, urinalysis, chest x-ray, EEG, CT or MRI, and electrocardiogram. A diagnosis of AD is made when all other disorders that could cause dementia have been ruled out (e.g., stroke, depression, thyroid disease, nutritional deficiencies, brain tumors, head trauma, subdural hematoma, and normal pressure hydrocephalus, to name a few). However, of these, Alzheimer`s is the most common cause of dementia symptoms (about 56% of those affected by dementia have AD).

Related Resources:

National Alzheimer's Association
Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center (ADEAR)

For more information:

Go to the Alzheimer's Disease health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jon Stuckey, PhD
Formerly
Case Western Reserve University

David   Geldmacher, MD David Geldmacher, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Neurology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University