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The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually done for people without any current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

There are several tests that doctors may use to screen for Alzheimer's disease. Examples include:

  • Neurological exam—to test the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles) for evidence of other neurological disorders
  • Wechsler's Logical Memory and Visual Reproduction and Kendrick Object Learning Test—may be used if you have symptoms of depression
  • Seven-Minute Screen
  • Mini-Mental State Exam
  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA)
  • Memory Impairment Screening
  • Self-assessment cognitive test—this is a test that you take on your own to assess your memory

Genetic testing is available, but it is not routinely used in most patients. It may be done in patients with a family history of early-onset Alzheimer's. Researchers are also studying whether specialized imaging tests would be helpful in screening for Alzheimer's disease. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) evaluation via a lumbar puncture may play a role in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

References:

Alzheimer's disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated August 19, 2013. Accessed September 6, 2013.

Alzheimer's disease medications fact sheet. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/medicationsfs.htm. Updated July 22, 2013. Accessed September 6, 2013.

Know the 10 signs. Alzheimer’s Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_10_signs_of_alzheimers.asp. Accessed September 6, 2013.

Drago V, et al. Disease tracking markers for Alzheimer’s disease at the prodromal (MCI) stage. J Alzhemier’s Dis. 2011;26 Suppl 3:159-199.

Hampel H, et al. Biomarker’s for Alzheimer’s disease: academic, industry and regulatory perspectives. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2010;9(7):560-74.

Roalf DR, Moberg PJ, Xie SX, et al. Comparative accuracies of two common screening instruments for classification of Alzheimer’s disease , mild cognitive impairment, and healthy aging. Alzheimers Dement. 2012; Dec 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Wolk DA, Klunk W. Update on amyloid imaging: from healthy aging to Alzheimer's disease. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2009;9(5):345-352.

7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Brown J, Pengas G, Dawson K, Brown LA, Clatworthy P. Self administered cognitive screening test (TYM) for detection of Alzheimer's disease: cross sectional study. BMJ. 2009;338:b2030.

Last reviewed September 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.