Alzheimer's disease affects about five percent of the 65 to 74 year old population, and almost 50 percent of the 85 and older population, according to the Mayo Clinic. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the patient loses her ability to take care of herself, as well as important cognitive functions, like memory and judgment. If the disease is identified sooner, treatment can begin that slows down the cognitive decline.
Kaj Blennow and Harald Hampel noted in their Lancet article “CSF markers for incipient Alzheimer's disease” that “the degenerative process in [Alzheimer's disease] probably starts 20 to 30 years before the clinical onset of the disease.” Most of the diagnostic tests for Alzheimer's disease listed by the Mayo Clinic, like neurological testing and brain scans, do not detect the disease until after symptoms start. However, detecting certain biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can help indicate Alzheimer's disease earlier.
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