With no current treatment for dementia, a small group of researchers are looking for ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease by working on tests that could detect the disease years, even decades, before symptoms show up. With the number of cases expected to triple by 2050, researchers are quickly looking for a solution.
Researchers from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center are hoping to catch the disease early so patients might be able to change their fate by changing their behavior. Director Dr. Richard Isaacson runs tests not only on the patients’ blood and cognitive abilities, but also looks at the client’s genetic background, which can help him “refine or fine-tune the suggestions I make to patients.”
Max Lugavere, a musician, filmmaker and onetime TV host, is one of the patients that utilizes these medical opportunities. Even though he appears healthy, his blood tests tell another story: He has a genetic variation and high levels of an amino acid shown to increase risk for dementia. “My mother, who is 62, three years ago started having symptoms of memory loss and cognitive difficulty,” Lugavere said. “So I became obsessed with this idea of taking steps in my own life that could potentially ensure that I’ll never have anything like dementia.”
“I’m not afraid of Alzheimer’s. I’m going to do everything possible that I can today,” he said. “But there are absolutely things we have to [do to] empower young people and people of all ages to make brain healthier choices.”