As the elders of the population age, there is an increased risk for certain health concerns such as Alzheimer’s disease, which attacks the brain’s ability to orient to time, place, or memory. Though the field of medicine has done much to advance their knowledge of the disease, there remains much more to be discovered. Now, early detection of this condition might be as simple as a blood test done during a routine doctor’s checkup.
Researchers now believe that this blood test, if done in a timely manner, can establish whether or not a person will have Alzheimer’s disease. While there is still no cure for the disease, there have been great advances in the implementation of medications that aid in slowing the disease’s progress. Early detection via a blood test intends to forewarn a patient of the likelihood that they will have the disease, so they will be able to to take preventative measures.
However, some concern has arisen over the subject as to its true ethical merit. Some feel that early detection will likely discourage a prospective patient if they know ahead of time that what they may be preparing to face is the soon onset of their own bout with Alzheimer’s disease. Given the nature of the disease and the fact that so far, nothing substantial can be done in order to help sufferers, there are those who fear that the knowledge will be largely counter intuitive to bringing about positive change.
Even the medications that are largely in use for the disease are mostly ineffective in halting the pathology. Most of the medications available are palliative at best. However, they do tend to at least alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, even if they lack the ability to completely reverse them all together.
As the sixth main cause of mortality in the United States, this means that upwards of 5 million Americans are afflicted with this condition. The field of medicine is demanding answers on behalf of all the lives it holds in its hands.This number is not set to decrease, but rather, to steadily increase as more of the population ages. This leaves physicians and family members alike with the need to know.
While some feel that prior knowledge can only work against a person’s emotional health, it is also an important factor for physicians to be able to consider on behalf of the patient in order to provide a greater continuance of care. The hope is, with early detection, more can be done on behalf of the patient when their mental faculties are finally compromised. The routine blood screenings would be a vital part to the medical record for the patient.
This means, that no matter where the patient winds up, any physician they seek care from will be able to access this information and treat them accordingly, without the usual hunt and peck that is associated with attempting to identify a patient who is confused and unable to communicate who they are or what is wrong. The blood test would put any confusion related to the care of the patient to rest. With regular screenings to determine the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, patients can now know and make informed decisions about their care while they still can.
By: J.A. Johnson