This PhD work, carried out by Lluís Samaranch, supports the theory that the majority of patients with MCI are at an intermediate stage which will end up in an acute condition. However, not all cases with mild impairment evolve to this condition.
This conclusion was arrived at after the Memory Disorder Unit at the University Hospital searched for early indicators of the ailment. Besides neuropsychological markers involved, the most significant find was the discovery of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) as a highly efficacious technique for measuring the risk of evolving MCI.
Early detection to combat the disease
This multidisciplinary research involved neuropsychologists, nurses and engineers working together.
For more than 17 months a sample of 299 patients was studied. Of these, 103 suffered some mild cognitive impairment; 80 volunteered subjective complaints regarding memory; and 54 individuals were used as a control group, made up of volunteers from the Navarre Blood Donors' Association.
All were tested neuropsychologically and with magnetic resonance and were subjected to various analyses and a genetic risk markers examination, amongst other procedures. Thanks to all this, the team came to the conclusion that the illness can be identified at early stages, before irreversible damage occurs, albeit with costly techniques such as the PET.
This is why the team insists on the necessity to find new, more accessible and simpler biochemical markers but with the same predictive capacity. In this manner we can undertake therapeutic intervention in the initial stages of Alzheimer – precisely when there are more possibilities of success.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.