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More than five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s. There is no cure, but now there is a new test that can tell you if you have it. Mackenzie Warren has the story of one man who is turning to the test for some answers.
"I'm just amazed how far it's come back then," said patient Jim Tindall.
Jim Tindall is overcome with emotion as he waits to be tested for Alzheimer’s.
"Well, I think I'm fine. She's the one that thinks I'm sick," said Tindall.
Tindall's wife and best friend Merena thinks she already knows what the answer will be.
"Oh, it makes me emotional."
At 68, his fun loving personality is very-much intact.
"I need a job is what I need. Maybe I can get your job."
Tindall still remembers his 6th grade teacher.
But with Alzheimer’s, remote memories are preserved; it's the short term that slips.
"He's had problems with his memory for about 4 years now."
Merena Tindall brought her husband to the Cleveland clinic Lou Ruvo Center for brain health to be tested with the facility's brand new PET scanner.
Tindall's PET scan will give Dr. Jeffrey Cummings a clear look at his brain.
"So we're able to make a diagnosis with a lot of confidence much earlier than we were ever able to do before," said Neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Cummings.
The scan can also be paired with a radioactive dye called "AMYVID."
Before the AMYVID scan, the only way to diagnose Alzheimer’s was through autopsy.
The hope is Tindall's images will target Alzheimer’s at an early pre-clinical stage before significant memory loss takes hold.
"To start the medications that we have as early as we can," said Cummings.
"I just feel like knowledge is power."
Dr. Cummings believes the early-detection scans are powering a new view on treatment.
"We're thinking much more now about this person isn't dying with Alzheimer’s. This person is living with Alzheimer’s disease and we need to help them know how to live with Alzheimer’s disease," said Cummings.
Which is exactly what Tindall has in mind.
"I’d like to live forever. I'm going to see 100."
Alzheimer's ranks second only to cancer among diseases people fear- according to a recent Harvard study.
The new scans are opening up an entire moral debate: would you want to know if you had Alzheimer’s?
Doctors at the Lou Ruvo Clinic says it's entirely up to the patient - but believe better care can be given earlier when you know.
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