Predicting Alzheimer's with just a pen and paper - New York News

Predicting Alzheimer's with just a pen and paper

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(WJBK) -

How can a simple pen and paper help diagnose Alzheimer's disease? As the number of Americans living with this devastating disease starts to surpass five million people, doctors say this home test could change lives.  

Even though Emily Shornstein spends much of her retirement traveling the world, she still finds time to help with medical research. She is a retired nurse who volunteers for studies involving Alzheimer's disease, which can sometimes be very invasive.

"I've done MRIs and CAT scans and even an LP, a lumbar puncture," she says.  

But now she's testing a new approach, one that involves simply a pen, paper and a few minutes of her time. It's called a SAGE test and a new study show it can reveal volumes about a patient's mind.

"What we found was that this SAGE self-administered test correlated very well with the very detailed cognitive testing," says Dr. Douglas Scharre from Oakland State University's Wexler Medical Center.

He and his team developed the test and gave it to more than one thousand patients over five years. They found that nearly 30 percent of people tested showed early signs of cognitive problems they didn't know they had. By repeating the test from time to time, doctors now have a cheap and easy way to monitor their patients and detect even slight changes in their cognitive ability.

"If we see this change we can catch it really early and we can start treatments much earlier than we did without a test," says Dr. Scharre. Early treatment is crucial; studies show most Alzheimer's patients wait three to four years before being treated.

Doctors say the 12 question test itself does not diagnose Alzheimer's but it's a screening tool that can help them track a patients cognitive abilities very closely. This is a test patients can take at home, which saves time and money.

LINK: Click here to download a copy of the SAGE test>>

The test does not have an answer key. You take the test to your doctor to analyze your cognitive abilities over time.

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