According to the most recent data from the World Health Organization, more than 35 million people are affected by dementia globally. Dementia refers to a wide range of symptoms caused by certain disorders that affect the brain, leading to impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Early prevention is crucial to improve quality of life of the elderly. However, there were no trustworthy markers to diagnose the risk of dementia setting in.
Scientists at Rigshospitalet, Herlev Hospital and the University of Copenhagen identified a new biomarker that can predict the risk of developing dementia by way of a simple blood test. Over 75,708 people participated in the study, which was published in the February issue of the internationally acclaimed medical journal Annals of Neurology.The study finds that low levels of a biomarker in blood, called apolipoprotein E, are associated with higher risk of developing dementia later in life. The blood test method could help prevention and at least postponement of the illness, the scientists hoped.
They pointed out that the low level of apolipoprotein E in the blood most likely reflects a low level ofapolipoprotein E in the brain and this indicates that the viscous compound, amyloid beta protein is less effectively removed. According to Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, clinical assistant and research professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, "The blood test will help provide a more precise risk evaluation of a citizen’s risk of developing dementia later in life. Thus, the citizens at the greatest risk of developing the illness are more easily identified than at present".
While performing blood tests, clinical laboratories should make sure to use quality blood collection sets. The WHO has also provided certain guidelines for a safe phlebotomy such as planning ahead, using an appropriate location, avoidance of contaminated phlebotomy equipment and maintaining quality of laboratory sampling.