The only practical way to diagnose dementia in Alzheimer's disease is to observe people with mild cognitive impairment over an extended period of time and gauge cognitive changes. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect changes in brain structures that may be indicators of Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's Disease: What is it?
Most people with dementia have Alzheimer's disease. This disease causes memory, thinking, and behavioral problems. It is closely related to aging. The brain volume of patients with Alzheimer's disease decreases. With advancing age, everyone loses some brain mass, but with Alzheimer's, the loss of brain volume becomes more noticeable. These people lose brain mass twice as quickly as the average person—that is, 0.5% to 1% of their total brain volume every year. Patients with Alzheimer's lose three times as much brain volume each year in the hippocampus compared with those without the disease. Often, Alzheimer's does not show obvious signs of brain shrinkage in the early stages. MRI can detect Alzheimer's disease even in the early stages, although they have greater effectiveness in the middle to late stages.
If you think you or a loved one may have early onset Alzheimer's, you should seek medical attention right away. Alzheimer's can't be diagnosed with 100% certainty, but there are tests that can help you find out whether you or your loved one have the disease. These tests include physical, psychological, and neurological evaluation, blood tests and an MRI. MRI and CT scans of the head and brain are able to pinpoint early signs. Even though Alzheimer's does not have a cure, early detection of the neurodegenerative disease can improve quality of life.
How does MRI work?
Magnetic resonance imaging - more commonly known as MRI - is a technology used to determine the progress of various diseases and conditions, including Alzheimer's. The doctor measures the volume changes in certain areas of the brain when looking at images from an Alzheimer MRI. A study published in NeuroImage: Clinical has demonstrated diagnostic accuracy up to 87% in detecting Alzheimer's disease seven years before symptoms appear.
Which parts of the brain do MRI scans target?
Imaging tests for Alzheimer's disease, such as CT, measure the size and density of cells in the hippocampus to rule out other diagnoses. In the brain, the hippocampus is responsible for forming memories. Alzheimer's patients usually have shrinking or damage to this part of the brain. The hippocampus is evaluated by radiologists, who compare this information with a large database to see if there is a disease present in your brain.
What is to be expected during an MRI?
MRIs combine magnets and radio waves to create detailed pictures of your brain. They create images with no discomfort or side effects. MRI scans can be performed in hospitals or outpatient imaging centers. The latter usually offer more competitive prices, are more efficient, and possess better equipment.
Can Alzheimer's disease be prevented?
This disease can be prevented, delayed and slowed down in its progression using the following effective methods:
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule. Choose activities that combine cardiovascular exercise and strength training to build muscle.
- Make your diet healthy for the brain. Vegetables, nuts, olive oil, blueberries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, and red wine. At the same time, it is recommended to introduce a reasonable restriction on the consumption of red meat, flour products and sweets, margarine, high-fat cheese, fried foods and fast food. Such a diet is beneficial not only for the brain, but also for the body as a whole, as it helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
- Immediately stop smoking if you smoke.
- Protect your head from injury. It has been proven that head injuries, moreover, received at any age significantly increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
- Develop a sense of balance. You can improve your coordination and balance by doing yoga, Taijiquan gymnastics, and pilates.
- It's never too late to learn! The only way to keep your mind sharp is to master new skills and knowledge.
- Sleep at least 7-8 hours each night.
- Socialize: Studies show that having an active social life and maintaining close relationships with others may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's in old age.
- Keep calm.