New approach to screen individuals for early Alzheimer's disease

Nov 18, 2008

With millions of baby boomers entering late adulthood, the number of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is expected to drastically rise over the next several decades.

A team of national researchers, led by Emory University, has developed a rapid screening test to detect mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — often the earliest stage of AD. The findings are published today in the online edition of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study shows that the combination of a very brief three-minute cognitive screening test, called the Mini-Cog (MC), with a Functional Activities Questionnaire (FAQ) – administered to a family member or friend – could accurately identify individuals with MCI and undiagnosed dementia.

"Since current medications can only delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease but are not able to reverse its devastating effects, a test like this is key to help individuals detect this devastating disease earlier and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible," says James Lah, MD, associate professor of neurology, Emory University School of Medicine and lead investigator of the study.

The new screening instrument, referred to as the MC-FAQ, allowed the researchers to correctly classify the 204 participating elderly individuals as cognitively normal, demented, or mildly cognitively impaired with a high degree of accuracy (83 percent). Approximately 30 percent of participants had MCI and 32 percent were very mildly demented.

According to Lah, screening for MCI is notoriously difficult and typically requires 40-60 minutes or more of formal neuropsychological testing to achieve 80 percent accuracy or higher. Specific accuracy for classifying people as MCI with the MC-FAQ was 74 percent.

"While this may not seem overly impressive, it is quite remarkable for a 3-minute investment," says Lah. "The MC-FAQ is also extremely inexpensive, easy to administer and score, and requires no special training."

The MC portion of the screening consisted of a simple clock drawing task and three-item recall that typically took the research participant less than five minutes to complete. The FAQ was completed by a reliable informant, generally a spouse, other family member or close friend while the research participant was performing other tasks.

Source: Emory University

Explore further: Fecal microbiota transplant cures C. diff, blocks multi-drug resistant pathogens

Related Stories

Extreme excavation: Fire ant style

1 hour ago

Fans of The Lord of the Rings may disagree, but when it comes to exquisite excavation, the dwarves of Moria have nothing on the mighty fire ants of Georgia Tech. But Dan Goldman and Michael Goodisman aren't fascinated by ...

Recommended for you

Scientists reverse bacterial resistance to antibiotics

5 hours ago

The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing problem in the United States and the world. New findings by researchers in evolutionary biology and mathematics could help doctors better address the ...

Plant toxin causes biliary atresia in animal model

5 hours ago

A study in this week's Science Translational Medicine is a classic example of how seemingly unlikely collaborators can come together to make surprising discoveries. An international team of gastroenterologists, pediat ...

Statins don't reduce psoriasis risk

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Statin use does not lower the risk of psoriasis, according to a study published online April 20 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.