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Alzheimer's Disease - 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.

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Initial tests

The doctor will use a 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.

The person will also have a functional status exam and a mental health assessment. During these exams, he or she will be asked to perform simple tasks.

Lab tests

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:

Imaging and other tests

Other tests include:

In some cases, examining the brain after death is done if the family wants to confirm that the person had Alzheimer's disease.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: October 29, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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