Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

While not uncommon, a memory that disappears with age can be worrying: While it is just a normal part of aging for some, for others it may be an early sign of a more serious problem, such as Alzheimer’s disease. A new study suggests that a simple test that anyone can take on their own may detect subtle signs of dementia earlier than current screening tests.

Researchers evaluated the accuracy of a paper and pencil test, called SAGE, in more than 400 patients, who were followed for almost nine years and found that when results from different time points were compared, age-related memory loss could be distinguished from the early stages. of dementia, according to the report published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.

While you can take the SAGE test at home, it is recommended that a doctor score it for you.Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

“We found that SAGE was an effective screening tool for identifying people who would eventually develop dementia, probably six months earlier than the most widely used screening tool,” said Dr. Douglas Scharre, director of the Department of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University.

A big advantage of SAGE is that people do not have to be monitored while typing in the answers, Scharre said. “Patients can take it on their own while sitting in the doctor’s waiting room,” he added. “Since you do not need someone to administer the test, such as a doctor or nurse, it is easy to get patients to do it every six months.”

The new study points to how much a drop in score will indicate the subtle signs of developing dementia, Scharre said. “What we suggest is that if you take it at home, you bring it to your doctor to score it,” he added. “If today’s score is normal, you would like to check again in six months to see if there is a decrease. Our study showed that only individuals whose scores decreased eventually developed dementia.”

For those who like to figure things out on their own, it is possible to download the test and learn how to score it via SAGE’s medical section. Scharre notes that there are four different versions of the test so people do not get a boost from remembering what was on the exam the last time they took it.

To see if the SAGE test could distinguish between normal age-related memory loss and memory problems associated with dementia, Scharre and his colleagues reviewed the charts of 665 consecutive patients who had come to the Ohio State Memory Disorders Clinic. The researchers included patients in their analysis who had had at least two visits at six-month intervals, where they were evaluated with SAGE and the current standard, the Mini-Mental State Examination, which must be given by a health professional.

Of the 424 individuals who met the inclusion criteria in the study, 40 were determined to have subjective cognitive decline (patients who felt their memory got worse but were still testing in the normal range), 94 had mild cognitive impairment that not converted to dementia, 70 with MCI developed into dementia, and 220 were found to have dementia at their first visit.

Among patients who eventually progressed from MCI to dementia, scores dropped 1.91 points per year on the SAGE test and 1.68 points per year on the MMSE. Among those patients whose initial score indicated Alzheimer’s disease dementia, SAGE scores fell 1.82 points per year. year, and MMSE scores fell 2.38 points per year. year. The scores remained stable for patients who had subjective cognitive decline and those with MCI who did not develop.

“I think the idea of ​​trying to identify one’s own personal cognitive decline over time is excellent,” said Sandra Weintraub, professor of psychiatry at the Mesulam Center for Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “This is a topic that has been of interest to all of us in this field for a very long time.”

Weintraub believes that the future of dementia detection is online cognitive tests that you can download to your phone to see how you are doing over time.

Overall, such tests, whether pencil and paper or their digital cousins, are “a good idea,” she said. “One of the problems we have is when a person comes to cognitive evaluation, we do not know how they were before. Everyone is different.”

People should look at cognition checks the same way they look at blood pressure monitoring, Weintraub said. “If your blood pressure is high, call your doctor. The same should happen if you see a drop on a ‘brain monitor’.”

However, it is important to understand that the results of these tests are not a diagnosis, Weintraub said. This is because a lot of things besides brain changes can lead to cognitive decline, some of them can be cured.

For example, she said, “Older people may have this kind of decline due to kidney failure. You have to remember that the brain is a chemical / electrical organ. There are certain neurotransmitters that the brain needs and when you have kidney failure or some kind of for organ problems, the chemistry changes. “

The good news, Weintraub said, is that if your falls are not caused by actual changes in your brain, they may be reversible.

By Victor

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