Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009


One of the worst things about Alzheimer's disease is the way it sneaks up on its victims. By the time the first signs appear, it may be too late for lifestyle therapies like staying mentally and socially active. But researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, San Francisco, may have developed a way to flush Alzheimer's out of hiding. Studying a population of seniors, they considered possible signs and risk factors for the disease — age, genes, body weight and more — and arranged them on a 15-point scale. They then followed the same subjects for six years. Of those who scored 8 or above on the scale, 56% showed some mental decline at the end of the study period. Only 23% of the lower-scoring subjects showed symptoms. A similar test as a routine part of physical exams could help seniors get a jump on the disease.