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This One Thing Can Catch Alzheimer's 20 Years Before Your Symptoms Start

Best Life logo Best Life 3 days ago Lauren Gray
a person sitting on a couch: If the coronavirus pandemic—and the ensuing months spent indoors—has been anything but beneficial for your mental health, you're not alone. According to an April 2020 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 percent of respondents said the stress and worry they've experienced amid the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health.Unfortunately, the mental health outcomes may be even worse for those who contract the virus; a May 2020 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reveals that in previous outbreaks of coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, approximately 15 percent of hospitalized patients still had lingering anxiety or depression three years after their discharge. However, even if things seem grim right now, there's still hope. With the help of experts, we've rounded up easy-to-follow tips for boosting your mental health on a daily basis. And for more ways to improve your wellbeing, check out these 17 Mental Health Tips for Quarantine From Therapists. © Provided by Best Life

If the coronavirus pandemic—and the ensuing months spent indoors—has been anything but beneficial for your mental health, you're not alone. According to an April 2020 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 percent of respondents said the stress and worry they've experienced amid the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health.

Unfortunately, the mental health outcomes may be even worse for those who contract the virus; a May 2020 study published in The Lancet Psychiatry reveals that in previous outbreaks of coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, approximately 15 percent of hospitalized patients still had lingering anxiety or depression three years after their discharge. However, even if things seem grim right now, there's still hope. With the help of experts, we've rounded up easy-to-follow tips for boosting your mental health on a daily basis. And for more ways to improve your wellbeing, check out these 17 Mental Health Tips for Quarantine From Therapists.

Diagnosing Alzheimer's is notoriously complicated. Until recently, reaching a diagnosis has meant cobbling together medical history, mental status tests, neurological exams, and brain imaging—and even then, it can't be fully confirmed until a post-mortem exam reveals amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain. But this week, a large international study published in the medical journal JAMA revealed that a new blood test known as "p-tau217" has shown "remarkable promise" in detecting Alzheimer's disease. Perhaps even more significantly, it can identify the disease up to 20 years before a patient first shows any symptoms.

Given that up to 81 percent of Alzheimer's cases go unrecognized in primary care settings, this advancement could have major implications for Alzheimer's patients. According to Eric Reiman, MD, Executive Director of Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix and a senior author on the study, the blood test is inexpensive and widely available—meaning it could become a common screening tool for high and low risk individuals alike.

Though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, certain clinical and non-clinical interventions can drastically change patient outcomes for the better. The sooner the diagnosis, the better the chances of successfully managing the disease.

Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as lifestyle changes, cognitive training, and behavioral therapy can significantly offset a person's risk of developing severe symptoms. One study revealed that these changes contributed to a 25 percent improvement in overall cognition (as measured through a series of neuropsychological tests), an 83 percent improvement in executive function, and a 150 percent improvement in processing speed. Clinical treatments are also available, including two medications used to alleviate symptoms of memory loss and confusion.

If you suspect symptoms of cognitive decline, or have a family history of Alzheimer's, talk to your doctor about screening for the disease. Though the p-tau217 blood test will require further research before becoming widely available in clinical settings, you can make lifestyle changes today that could greatly impact your tomorrow. And for more on Alzheimer's prevention, Doing This One Thing Could Drop Your Alzheimer's Risk by 30 Percent.


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