2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

Reversing Mental Decline Part 3: Tests For Alzheimer’s Prevention

Dale Bredesen, MD, author of The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program To Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline, refers to the tests you should undergo if you’re concerned about brain health as a “cognoscopy,” sort of a colonoscopy for your brain. Perhaps thinking back on your own colonoscopy, it’s reasonable to ask, “Do I really need a cognoscopy?”

There are three groups of people I recommend give these tests serious consideration. (And at least a cognoscopy doesn’t require a laxative.)

  • If mid- or late-life dementia runs in your family. (“Grandma was showing confusion in her late 60s and spent her final ten years in a nursing home.”)
  • You’re middle aged and experiencing too many senior moments. No one else notices, but you do, which is why it’s called subjective cognitive impairment.
  • You’re middle aged and people around you have expressed concern about changes in your cognitive skills (missed appointments, late for meetings, third iPhone replacement). This is mild cognitive impairment.

Although it’s been long established that a protein called amyloid deposited in your brain is the culprit behind the dementia that characterizes Alzheimer’s, there are three primary amyloid triggers: inflammation, atrophy, and toxins.

Before you do any detailed testing, ask your doctor to check your APOe (the Alzheimer gene) status. While dementia can occur among APOe-negative patients, being APOe-positive can increase your risk dramatically.

Here are tests for inflammation
Click on the links to learn more.

  • hsCRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein) measures inflammation throughout your body.
  • A/G ratio (ratio of albumin to globulin), a test that complements the hsCRP.
  • Ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids in your blood cells (ditto).
  • IL-6 (interleukin 6) and TNF (tumor necrosis factor), both of which increase during chronic inflammation.
  • Gluten sensitivity (though simply eliminating gluten for 14 days and finding you feel better and then re-introducing it and feeling worse is an excellent self-test).
  • Leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability).

Tests for atrophy (nutritional and hormonal deficiencies)

  • Vitamins B-1 (thiamine); B-6; B-12; D; E; and folate.
  • Thyroid: Free T3, Free T4, TSH, reverse T3, thyroid antibodies.
  • Sex hormones: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone.
  • Adrenal hormones: AM and PM cortisol, the stress hormone (via the Genova Adrenocortex Stress Profile).
  • Homocysteine (an amino acid linked to brain atrophy, which can be lowered by taking adequate amounts of B vitamins).
  • Fasting insulin; fasting blood sugar; HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c). All test for insulin resistance and early diabetes, both common with early dementia.
  • Serum zinc, copper, glutathione, selenium, red blood cell magnesium. 

Tests for toxins (chronic infections, environmental toxins)

Other useful dementia-related tests

  • Hearing (long-term hearing loss increases risk for dementia).
  • Cholesterol profile (high LDL increases risks for dementia caused by multiple small strokes).
  • Sleep study (untreated sleep apnea can cause brain amyloid deposits).
  • MRI of brain with measurements of brain volume (for people at high risk or who have mild cognitive decline).
  • Professional screening of your mental status by a psychologist.

Will your health insurance pay for all this? In fact, most of the tests listed above are not considered alternative or experimental and indeed are covered by most PPO policies, although with health insurance nothing is for certain.

It’s easier to list tests that are only partially covered: the functional tests for leaky gut and adrenal function. Not covered by insurance are the confirmatory tests for Lyme (Igenex) and mold (Great Plains Mycotox Profile).

If you have concerns about your susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, print this series of Health Tips and take them to your primary care physician. Read Dr. Bredesen’s book and encourage your doc to read it as well.

If you’re interested having these tests at WholeHealth Chicago, schedule with any of the physicians or nurse practitioners (myself, Drs. Kelley, Gemelas, or Scott, or Katie McManigal).

Once we have your test results back, nutritionists Marla Feingold and Seanna Tully will be added to your team. If you want psychological testing for mild impairment, schedule with psychologist Dr. Janet Chandler.

Next week, the last in this series, what you can start doing right now to improve your brain and reduce your risks.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

For Part 4, click here.

Leave a Comment


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

BIRTHDAY

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Upcoming Workshops


**Winter Solstice Celebration: An evening of Acupuncture and Shamanic Healing
Tuesday, December 17, 5:45–7:30pm
Hosted by Katie Oberlin, HTCP and Mari Stecker, LAc

Course Fee: $75.00

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to enter the stillpoint of the Winter Solstice, reflect on the lessons of 2019, and set intentions for the new year. This will be an evening of individual and group healing, ceremony, and celebration. More →

Recent Health Tips

  • Issues with Endocrinologists: Thyroid Approaches and Big Pharma

    My beefs with endocrinologists pretty much center on how they manage thyroid gland concerns, though they rarely win prizes for managing adrenal issues either. I don’t know any endocrinologists personally and rarely refer my patients to them. Occasionally, a patient with newly diagnosed hypothyroidism (low thyroid) will want to confirm the diagnosis with an endocrinologist. I suggest she prepare for a scolding if she’s taking Read More

  • Six Beefs With Rheumatologists

    If you find yourself in the waiting room of a rheumatologist, you’re likely there because your joints hurt and have been hurting, often for years. You’ve been getting by on aspirin or Advil for the pain, but with things worsening your primary care doctor suggests you should see a joint specialist, a rheumatologist. And because there’s a shortage of physicians in this specialty, your appointment Read More

  • The Flu: How To Recognize It and What to Do

    It’s here, folks, and this year could be a doozy. How do we know? We keep a watchful eye on Australia, whose winter and flu season occur six months before our own. The New York Times reported that “In 2017, a terrible flu season in Australia presaged an American outbreak in which 79,000 died. Experts advise getting the shot soon.” More here. You may have Read More

Join our Discount Program!

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION