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New blood test could detect Alzheimer's sooner

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 08:46:33-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A new study could potentially change the way Alzheimer's is detected.

A blood test would be able to test for the protein NfL, which may be associated with one of the genetic forms of Alzheimer's disease, and pick up the condition more than a decade before symptoms start to appear.

RELATED: A blood test may detect whether Alzheimer's will develop 16 years before symptoms show, study says

"It can detect changes in their blood before they have cognitive symptoms and memory loss, and we've never been able to see that before," said Dr. Aaron Ritter with the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

One of the patients at the center is Pat Ulrich from Pahrump. Her husband of 60 years, Gene, is her caregiver. She was diagnosed in 2003 after her husband noticed she forgot her cell phone one day even though she had just called him from it.

Luckily, she's managed the disease well for the past 15 years. She says one thing she does to keep her find sharp is playing jigsaw puzzles.

Across town at Roseman University, Dr. Eric Farbman is also encouraged by the study, but also warns it only applied to a certain kind of genetic Alzheimer's.

"Most forms of Alzheimer's are not just genetic, and even the genes that contribute only show your susceptibility," Dr. Farbman said.

There's still no known cause of Alzheimer's, but there are still some tips you can do to keep your brain healthy:

  • Make sure you exercise, especially cardio.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Stay social, especially as you get older.