PET’s Role In Preventatative Alzheimer’s Research

Alzheimer’s disease not only affects the person diagnosed with this cognitive disease, but it negatively affects a family as a whole. American ranked Alzheimer’s as the most feared disease even before cancer.  While efforts to find a cure have been unsuccessful, research continues to be done on this cognitive disease. Diagnostic imaging scans are now being used as a tool to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.

The PET Study

Positive emission tomography, most commonly referred to as a PET scan, utilized radioactive tracers in the body that light up and produce images of the body. When used for brain scans, PET can show increased activity in the brain. When used on patients without any apparent symptoms, PET imaging scans can show a buildup of amyloid in the brain, which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

By using PET scans on people above the age of 65, Alzheimer’s can be discovered before any symptoms occur. Future studies are being done focused on people who may be at a higher risk due to a family history of dementia and Alzheimer’s. With the use of PET scans, researchers have found a starting point for prevention efforts.


“Now that we can use PET imaging to predict the likelihood of Alzheimer’s, we’ve changed how we characterize the disease. We used to consider mild cognitive impairment to be a precursor of Alzheimer’s. Now we look upon it as part of the disease, simply an early stage. For prevention strategies to work, we have to consider the first sign of amyloid buildup—before symptoms emerge—as the starting point of Alzheimer’s disease.”

-Dr. Erik Roberson, a primary researcher for this study

While Alzheimer’s can be reversed once it begins, studies similar to this one can aid in predicting the disease and formulating ways to manage it’s growth.  Currently treatments are in place to help ease the symptoms often found in dementia patients, but the decline in mental ability can become inhibiting to everyday activities overtime.

Along with research purposes, PET scans are often used to detect cancer, heart problems, and problems with the central nervous system.  If you are in need of a PET scan, make an appointment at Rosetta Radiology for the best imaging care in the Upper East Side,

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