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January 13, 2011

Think you may have memory problems, take this test

Early diagnosis is best in most medical cases. That’s certainly true for dementia, doctors say. And some researchers at Johns Hopkins have found an online tool can help seniors determine whether they should seek a more thorough evaluation from their physicians for the malady.

The tool, which is still being refined, doesn’t diagnose. It lets the seniors know if they are at risk and should get a physical exam, blood work and images.

“As the population ages and dementia becomes more prevalent, it's important to get people diagnosed early,” says Jason Brandt, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.  “Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia don't just creep up on you. They're incubating for decades in the brain. This tool is potentially very useful in determining who is at risk.”

The Dementia Risk Assessment asks questions about a person’s risk factors for dementia, including whether the person has a history of high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, high cholesterol or head injury. The tool also offers a simple memory test, said Brandt, the leader of the study that appears online in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia.

The study looked at responses from 357 people over age 50 who took the assessment at  alzcast.org. The assessment takes about five to 10 minutes, and Brandt says it separates those who are really at risk verses common forgetfulness that creeps up on older people. Those are people, for example, who just can’t remember where they put the keys.

There are methods to slow cognitive decline or even restore brain function with some forms of dementia. Though, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 11:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: geriatrics
        

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.
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