When it comes to amyloid you should know that…

Brain scansNot all people with abnormal amyloid deposits may go on to experience serious memory changes and full-blown symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Because researchers are now able to detect amyloid in living persons with special brain imaging techniques, it has been shown that quite a few volunteers with no memory complaint had some amyloid deposition in their brains. And patients with Alzheimer’s disease haven’t necessarily accumulated more amyloid despite progression of their disease.

The dilemma is: Should all patients over 65 with a memory complaint get a high resolution brain scan?

Dr. Tiffany Chow, clinician-scientist in Baycrest’s Sam and Ida Ross Memory Clinic, notes that advances in brain imaging with its diagnostic and predictive capabilities is starting to stir debate about whether more powerful, higher resolution brain scans or amyloid imaging should become part of routine clinical practice for all patients over 65 who present with a memory complaint.

“Not everyone with abnormal amyloid plaque deposits will go on to experience serious memory changes and full-blown symptoms of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Chow. “The clinician’s dilemma will be whether to initiate aggressive drug intervention as soon as plaque deposits are apparent in scans, even if memory changes are mild, or wait a little longer.

“We still need to determine if amyloid is a cause or an effect of Alzheimer’s disease.”

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