Tests to determine whether people are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult and costly. Some require a spinal tap, and others involve expensive brain imaging studies not done in every hospital. A study published online June 2, 2021, by the journal Brain found that a blood test may help to predict an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The study followed 159 people who were cognitively normal for two years, and found that higher levels of one blood marker — called P-tau — predicted people who were more likely to develop cognitive decline and brain shrinkage. P-tau is known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. P-tau levels also were abnormal in 123 people who already had Alzheimer’s, but not in people with other kinds of dementia. Measuring P-tau in the blood was as accurate in predicting increased risk as measuring it in the spinal fluid, meaning that a simple blood test could eliminate the need for a spinal tap.
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