Blood Test Can Indicate Risk of Dementia

medicues | 19 April 2010, 9:31 pm

A blood test called the C-reactive protein is linked to the loss of higher level brain function.  This is according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

Elevated levels of the C-reactive protein have been associated with the development of dementia.  The current study was designed to assess the underlying mechanism of how this happens.  The C-reactive protein is known to be a marker of inflammation and has been associated with risk of heart disease and stroke.

The authors of this study examined 447 patients with the average age of 63 years.  They analyzed the test subjects with special brain MRI scans and a battery of test for higher level brain functions.

The results of this study showed that low-grade inflammation which was noted by an elevated (high-sensitivity) C-reactive protein and was associated with degenerative changes in certain areas of the brain and also with impairment of certain higher level brain functions.

Dementia and the risk of developing dementia is becoming increasingly important in our society as the baby boomers age.  In an attempt to learn more about how dementia develops, this study examined the role of inflammation, measured with the C-reactive protein blood test.

A very important question that was not addressed in this study is how do we treat patients who have elevated C-reactive proteins and does treatment stop the development of dementia and or degenerative processes?  Definitely more research is needed to answer these questions.

Cristopher Geiler, MD


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