Alzheimer’s disease: diagnosis

Suspected of Alzheimer’s is a person who has memory loss that gets worse over time. Currently there is a test under which they can establish with certainty that a person has Alzheimer’s. For a person to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s must pass a physical examination, a psychiatric and psychological examination and some laboratory tests (neuroimaging investigations), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), EEG or blood analysis.

So, the diagnosis can be established by physicians from different specialties.

Specialized consultations. First, you must go to your family doctor, who according to age and symptoms will send you to one of the specialists below:

1. Psychiatrist: specialist to diagnose and treat a range of mental disorders.
2. Neurologist: dealing with diseases of brain and nerve pathways.
3. Geriatrics physician: specialized in assessing specific diseases.

Diagnosis of dementia is established by:

1. Patient’s medical history and family. Analyzing patient history reported by the patient himself (some people deny the events of early stages of the disease, minimizing the gravity, etc.).

2. Clinical examination of the patient’s mental status

This is done routinely using a standardized questionnaire (MMSE = Mini-Mental State Examination). Subject is asked a series of questions that reveal the ability of orientation in space and time, attention, memory, understanding and reasoning ability. These evaluations can only indicate a diagnosis of dementia, because there is no clinical test to identify Alzheimer-type dementia.

3. Physical examination. Aims to detect other possible causes of symptoms, any liver, heart, thyroid diseases, etc.. There will also be tested their strength and eye coordination.

4. Laboratory investigations and imaging. These investigations are only to eliminate other causes of dementia. These include:

  • Blood investigations (blood test, liver and kidney tests, determining the concentration of thyroid hormones, HIV test, etc..)
  • Determination of some toxic substances;
  • Electrocardiogram, radiological examinations;
  • Electroencephalogram, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging.
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