Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

WASHINGTON (AP) – Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer’s? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests PET scans may lead to treatment changes for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down.

Wednesday’s findings mark a first peek at a huge study to determine whether Medicare should pay for specialized PET scans searching for an Alzheimer’s hallmark – sticky amyloid plaque.

Researchers tracked nearly 4,000 people with unusual dementia symptoms or who have puzzling early-stage mild memory loss.

Preliminary results show that in about two-thirds of cases, PET results changed doctors’ initial plans for medication, counseling or further testing The key change: Which patients needed drugs that temporarily ease Alzheimer’s symptoms.

The data was reported at an international Alzheimer’s meeting in London.

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