阿尔茨海默症的考验时刻

伦敦—阿尔茨海默症是目前最常见的痴呆诱发因素,也是世界上最令人恐慌的神经疾病。到2050年,全球将有1.35亿阿尔茨海默症患者,较目前增加三倍,其中四分之三发生在中低收入国家。预测阿尔茨海默的开始——更不用说预防和治疗了——仍是一个巨大的挑战。

阿尔茨海默症在一个世纪多前通过尸体解剖结果发现,其特征是被称为“淀粉样斑块”的脑损伤。该病在活着时更难诊断。医生依靠观察记忆丧失和其他思维缺陷(如推理和语言理解力)做出诊断——这些迹象表明脑部已经出现损伤。但需要在这些斑块形成前进行治疗才行,这时距离出现痴呆症状还有几年时间。

如果科学家有时间和资源进行为期多年的深入的纵向研究,阿尔茨海默症的可预测性可能会有所提高。这些研究最好包括对数千青年和中年人进行血液、影像、记忆和医学测试以及详细的生活方式问卷调查。研究参与者将受到为期数十年的跟踪,以观察谁发展出阿尔茨海默症,哪些测试在阿尔茨海默症获得诊断之前就能有所察觉。

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