Few illnesses cause as much fear Alzheimer’s, A fatal neurological disease that destroys memory and identity. The fear is often compounded by the uncertainty surrounding a typical dementia diagnosis.

Brain autopsies are the only way to know for sure that someone has the disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspects. 6.5 million people In America. In the past several years, sophisticated tests such as spinal taps and special pet scans have become available – but they are invasive and expensive and are not routinely used.

As a result, it is Alzheimer’s over and over Misdiagnosis, especially in the early stages. Other illnesses, including depression, may have similar symptoms and require other treatments.

But doctors can use simple blood tests to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease They are on the market now. More are on the way. The tests are considered an important scientific advance, but they have sparked debate over how and when they should be used.

Some experts Do a lot more research The new tests are needed before they can be widely deployed, especially in primary care settings. Others say there It is already enough information On the validity of some tests. All agree that no test is perfect, and physicians still need to perform a thorough clinical evaluation.

Widespread use of the tests may be some time in the future — once insurance coverage improves and more accurate next-generation tests become available. For now, none is covered by Medicare, and private insurance coverage is flat.

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