How to uncover your risk for Alzheimer's disease - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

How to uncover your risk for Alzheimer's disease

(Source: AP Graphics Bank) (Source: AP Graphics Bank)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) - Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

One in three seniors will die with it, but almost half of the people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers never know they have it.  A first-of-its kind risk assessment clinic is now providing detailed information to healthy adults about their Alzheimer’s risk.

Inside his newly created clinic, Dr. David Geldmacher, MD, Professor of Neurology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, provides patients with a personalized dementia risk assessment.

“We focus on those modifiable risk factors and give people a blueprint or a road map for improvement, or reducing those risks," Geldmacher said. 

Doctor’s start by discussing diet, exercise, cholesterol and blood pressure; all considered factors that can slow dementia’s progression. Clinicians also test something called psychomotor speed, how quickly a participant can do a puzzle or other task.

An MRI scan can signal atrophy or shrinkage in the memory centers of the brain. It can also pinpoint fluid spaces. People with larger fluid spaces have a higher risk for progression of dementia within a six-year time span.

“We haven’t figured out good ways for getting brain cells to grow back once they are dead or damaged. So if we can’t prevent those deaths then we’re always going to be behind the eight ball," Geldmacher explains.

The risk assessment is not covered by most health insurance companies and costs about $1,000 to complete.

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