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5-in-1 test may improve early diagnosis of dementia

New Jersey readers, like many Americans, may regard forgetfulness as a normal part of getting older. The problem is, sometimes it may foretell a more serious problem.

Dementia and Alzheimer's both can cause symptoms of memory loss and lowered concentration. Doctors unfortunately don't yet have a cure for Alzheimer's, which worsens over time. However, some forms of dementia might be reversible, if caught early, as are several other memory-affecting conditions, such as low levels of vitamin B12, thyroid problems, or metabolic disorders.

A patient experiencing severe memory loss may eventually go to his or her primary care physician. Unfortunately, many patients and doctors alike don't entertain the possibility of testing for memory-affecting conditions other than Alzheimer's.

At least one medical lab operator is seeking to change that mentality. Quest Diagnostics Inc. recently announced that it would be presenting a new test at an upcoming American Academy of Neurology meeting. The test combines five different screens for memory-affecting conditions into one. The company hopes that the convenience of the multipurpose test will convince more primary care physicians to use it.

Early diagnosis may help many workers with reversible forms of memory loss. For those whose symptoms will only worsen over time, however, it may be advisable to consult with an attorney about qualifying for Social Security disability insurance benefits. An attorney that specializes in SSDI applications and hearings will know the guidelines applicable to an individual worker's condition, as well as the evidence needed to qualify for financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.

Source:, "Quest Diagnostics introduces new tests to pinpoint signs of dementia," March 18, 2013

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