Approximately Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and about 5.3 million people in the country have it. At present, there is no single conclusive test to diagnose Alzheimer’s and a proper definitive diagnosis requires a series of medical evaluation including a thorough physical, neurological and mental status testing.
However, early diagnosis of this disease can allow for extensive clinical trials and increases the chances of finding a cure for it. One of the unique and simple tests for the accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is a simple salivary test. Find out everything there is to know about Alzheimer’s disease, especially in its diagnosis and treatment.
Few Facts And Figures About Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is a kind of dementia characterized by memory loss, and other cognitive effects on thinking and behavior. A study conducted to understand the prevalence of Alzheimer’s suggests that 26.6 million people were affected by this disease as of 2006 with the possibility of this number quadrupling by 2050.
It is said that one in 85 people across the world will have Alzheimer’s by 2050. The disease greatly affects the quality of life of the patients and also necessitates a lot of support from family and caregivers. The study further suggests that if the onset and progression of the disease are delayed by about a year through an intervention, then the cases of Alzheimer’s estimated for 2050 would be down by about 9.2 million.
These statistics tell a tale that reiterates that early detection and diagnosis of the disease can make a big difference worldwide. This disease happens to be the fifth cause of deaths in the age groups beyond the age of 65. More worrying is the fact that deaths from this disease have been increasing by 66% with a 5.4 million estimated cases prevalent as of 2011. While in 2011, every 69 seconds an American developed Alzheimer’s, by 2050 it is expected to be one every 33 seconds.1 2
All these facts and figures point towards the need for more considerable improvements in the field of medicine and technology towards early diagnosis or prediction of the disease. Determination of the disease is not easy as currently no one test can be done to say that a person is suffering from or likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
Thorough medical, physical, neurological, imaging, as well as mental tests, are done to determine the presence of the disease.
Studies For Early Diagnosis
Since above facts have established that an early diagnosis and intervention can help reduce the cases, much scientific research is happening in this domain. One such study investigated the submandibular salivary flow of early-stage patients and concluded that its rates were much lower in these patients.3
The need for simple, non-invasive tests for detection of Alzheimer’s is what is driving the community to experiment with the saliva test. A 2010 study on the topic found a small but statistically significant increase in saliva Aβ42 levels in patients with mild Alzheimer’s.
Hence, it suggests that these saliva levels could be considered as potential peripheral markers in the disease identification. Another team that studied this approach of saliva test suggests that saliva is indeed a non-invasive bio-fluid with lots of potential for biomarker translation implications in the Alzheimer’s related research area.4
These findings may help in arriving at a simpler, cheaper, single test for detecting Alzheimer’s instead of expensive imaging or invasive cerebral fluid studies. While this study has proved to be an important one, people from the medical fraternity suggest that further research and studies need to be conducted on larger samples to understand this better.5
|↑1||Alzheimer’s Association. “2011 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures.” Alzheimer’s & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association 7, no. 2 (2011): 208.|
|↑2||Brookmeyer, Ron, Elizabeth Johnson, Kathryn Ziegler-Graham, and H. Michael Arrighi. “Forecasting the global burden of Alzheimer’s disease.” Alzheimer’s & dementia 3, no. 3 (2007): 186-191.|
|↑3||Ship, Jonathan A., Charles Decarli, Robert P. Friedland, and Bruce J. Baum. “Diminished submandibular salivary flow in dementia of the Alzheimer type.” Journal of Gerontology 45, no. 2 (1990): M61-M66.|
|↑4||Bermejo-Pareja, Felix, Desiree Antequera, Teo Vargas, Jose A. Molina, and Eva Carro. “Saliva levels of Abeta1-42 as a potential biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease: a pilot study.” BMC Neurology 10, no. 1 (2010): 108.|
|↑5||Sapkota, Shraddha, Tran Tran, Tao Huan, Katherine Lechelt, Stuart MacDonald, Richard Camicioli, Liang Li, and Roger A. Dixon. “Metabolomics analyses of salivary samples discriminate normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease groups and produce biomarkers predictive of neurocognitive performance.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association 11, no. 7 (2015): P654.|