Simple tests may predict Alzheimer's disease

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The use of simple memory tests has the ability to accurately predict who will develop Alzheimer's disease within five to 10 years, according to a new study.

Canadian researchers used a test called delayed verbal recall to predict with 70% accuracy which people would develop Alzheimer's disease within a decade. The 10-year study included 1,000 participants aged 65 or older. The test involved showing a participant a list of 15 common words, and going over them several times. The study participant was then asked to recall as many of the words as possible a few minutes later. Many of the participants who scored poorly (those who were unable to recall as few as four words) went on to develop Alzheimer's within 10 years, according to researchers.
 
Identifying people at risk earlier offers more opportunity to help, said Mary Tierney, director of geriatric research at the Sunnybrook and Women's Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, and the study's lead investigator. Results of cognitive testing have previously been successful in pinpointing individuals at high risk for developing Alzheimer's two years before the onset of symptoms.
 
More than 80% of participants who scored poorly on the delayed verbal recall test plus two other tests developed Alzheimer's symptoms within five years, researchers found.
 
The study is published in the current issue of the journal Neurology.