Exams and Tests
Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed after other conditions are ruled out. Your doctor will use a variety of tests to do this.
It usually is helpful to have a family member or someone in close contact with the person present at the appointment. A family member may be able to provide the best information about how a person's day-to-day functioning, memory, and personality have changed.
The doctor will use a Reference medical history and physical exam to help find out if a physical problem may be causing the person's symptoms. Sometimes another problem can cause the same symptoms as Alzheimer's.
Lab tests may be done to rule out other possible causes of a person's symptoms, such as levels of certain minerals or chemicals in the blood, liver disease, abnormal thyroid levels, or nutritional problems, such as folate or vitamin B12 deficiencies. Treatment for these conditions may slow or reverse mental decline.
Blood tests that may be done include:
- Reference Complete blood count (CBC).
- Reference Liver function tests.
- Reference Folate (folic acid) test.
- Reference Vitamin B12 concentration.
- Reference Electrolyte Opens New Window and blood glucose levels (Reference sodium, Reference potassium, Reference creatinine, Reference glucose, Reference calcium).
- Reference Thyroid function tests.
- Reference HIV test, if the person has risk factors for HIV or the medical history suggests it.
Imaging and other tests
Other tests include:
- Brain imaging tests, such as a Reference CT head scan or an Reference MRI of the head.
- A lumbar puncture to test for certain proteins in the Reference spinal fluid Opens New Window.
- An Reference electroencephalogram, or EEG.
- Brain imaging studies, such as Reference positron emission tomography (PET) or single photon emission tomography (SPECT).
In some cases, examining the brain after death is done if the family wants to confirm that the person had Alzheimer's disease.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Myron F. Weiner, MD - Psychiatry, Neurology