Simple Blood Test May Predict Alzheimer's
Researchers have identified a indicator in blood that may help predict Alzheimer's: high levels of a certain fat called ceramides may increase a person's risk of getting dementia.
"Our study identifies this biomarker as a potential new target for treating or preventing Alzheimer's disease," said study author Michelle M. Mielke, an epidemiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
In the study, 99 women who were aged 70 to 79 and free of dementia when the study began had their blood tested. Over the 9 years of the study, 27 women developed dementia and 18 of those were diagnosed with probably Alzheimer's disease.
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Investigators found that women who had the highest levels of the serum ceramides - a fatty compound found throughout the body that is associated with inflammation and cell death - were 10 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those with the lowest levels.
"In this population-based sample of older women, high serum ceramide levels were associated with an increased risk of all-cause dementia independent of age, blood glucose and body mass index," the study authors concluded, according to CBC News. "These findings suggest that high levels of serum ceramides increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease."
Finding a biomarker for Alzheimer's could change the way we treat the disease. With a quick, noninvasive blood test, the risk of dementia could be determined and preventative measures can be taken earlier in the course of the disease.
"Identifying an accurate biomarker for early Alzheimer's that requires little cost and inconvenience to a patient could help change our focus from treating the disease to preventing or delaying it," said Valory Pavlik of the Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, according to U.S. News & World Report.
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