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Expatriate Insurance News: Alzheimer's 'could be spotted a decade early'

Expatriates with international medical insurance may soon be able to discover if they are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, with this occurring up to ten years in advance of them becoming ill enough to be positively identified as suffering from it.

Research from Sweden's Lund University and published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found the first alterations within the brain can be seen as much as a decade early, with scientists discovering a combination of markers can indicate a person has a high likelihood of developing this condition.

This corresponds with another recent study published in an online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, which linked the chances of a person suffering from the ailment with thinner parts of the cortex within the brain.

The Swedish investigators also found larger levels of a substance called tau and low amounts of beta-amyloid pointed to an elevated chance of falling ill with Alzheimer's disease at some point in the future.

Up to 91 per cent of the individuals studied who were suffering from mild memory impairment and who had these factors developed the condition within a decade, while those with similar memory problems but without these indicators had the same risk as other members of the public.

Furthermore, the progression of the condition was also examined by the experts.

It is thought pharmaceutical firms will be able to use this information to discover those at the highest risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease, with these individuals offered the chance to engage in research trials.

Investigators claimed this data will be particularly relevant when drugs have been created that can lessen the speed this ailment affects people.

Lead researcher physician Oskar Hansson said: "When a patient receives a diagnosis today, the damage has already gone too far."

"All prospective therapies have so far [been] shown to be ineffective in stopping the disease and many people are concerned that the pharmaceutical companies will give up their efforts in this field," he added.

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