There are no laboratory tests to confirm Alzheimer's disease. Your doctor will assume a diagnosis of Alzheimer's after a thorough clinical evaluation and a series of tests. Your doctor will also use these tests to eliminate the possibility of other conditions causing the dementia.
At first your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may also order some of the following tests:
Your doctor may perform these tests to determine if you have signs of dementia, how severe the dementia is, or to look for other causes of dementia. These tests may include:
Additionally, electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that evaluates and follows the electrical activity of the brain. It is not a common test for evaluating most dementias but it may be done.
Blood and urine tests may be ordered to look for other conditions that cause dementia. The tests may include:
Genetic tests can look for markers that increase your risk for early-onset Alzheimer’s. Your doctor may recommend this test if you have family members with this condition.
An Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis usually falls into one of three categories:
Alzheimer's disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 11, 2012. Accessed August 22, 2012.
Alzheimer's disease medications fact sheet. National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/medicationsfs.htm . Updated July 2010. Accessed August 22, 2012.
Ghidoni R, et al. Cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease: the present and the future. Neurodegen Dis. 2011;8:413-420.
Hampel H, Frank R, Broich K, et al. Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease: academic, industry and regulatory perspectives. Nat Rev Drug Discov . 2010;9(7):560-574.
Riverol M, Lopez OL. Biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease. Front Neurol . 2011;2:46.
What is Alzheimer's? Alzheimer’s Association website. Available at: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp . Accessed August 22, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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