Alzheimer’s has long been a prominent and ever increasing health problem in Thailand. Alzheimer’s occurs when the brain cells are damaged or destroyed due to several factors such as age, genetics, brain injury or stroke. Alzheimer’s is a condition that may manifest over the course of 15 – 20 years before clear symptoms become evident. Previous studies indicated that 10 per cent of people aged 65 and above would develop Alzheimer’s, where people over 85 would have 40 – 50 per cent chance to be diagnosed with the disease. Studies find that gradual memory loss or forgetfulness is the first sign of Alzheimer’s that can happen to people aged 50 and above. This cognitive deterioration can be difficult to detect.
Today, there are approximately 50 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The number of people diagnosed with this disease in Thailand is expected to rise in the next 10 years. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, however, early diagnosis means that the patient will be aware of his/her risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and will be able to adjust his/her lifestyle and have appropriate treatments.
People often do not realize when they have Alzheimer’s, thus they do not seek medical advice, and they will experience cognitive deterioration to the point that treatment becomes difficult. For individuals aged over 50, it is recommended to take tests for Alzheimer’s disease as early detection proves to be the key to treating and stalling the development of this mental ailment.
At Bangkok International Hospital, the PET scan is used for Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Along with the Pittsburgh Compound B, which can be produced within our Bangkok Hospital’s laboratory, the PET scan will trace the presence of beta-amyloid (the amino acids that are crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease) in the brain. This means that samples no longer have to be taken from the spine while still providing an accurate diagnosis.
Early diagnosis is crucial for medical treatment planning and making lifestyle changes to stall the progression of the disease. Reading, playing mathematical games, being socially active, staying positive and proactive, eating and sleeping well, exercising regularly or acitivities as such will improve your brain’s ability to sustain long-term health and fight illness.
There are two types of dementia which are Alzheimer’s disease and non – Alzheimer’s disease. It can be difficult to identify the types of dementia by using standard assessments, as clear symptoms may not be apparent. Therefore, in order to get accurate diagnosis, the FDG-PET scan is recommended so appropriate treatment and support can be provided.