Can dementia be picked up by a blood test?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by burfordthecat, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. burfordthecat

    burfordthecat Registered User

    Jan 9, 2008
    1,707
    Female
    Leicestershire
    Hi everyone

    I spoke to dad's GP earlier in the week because when I was cleaning the toilet I noticed possible blood in his urine. She recommended that he gave a sample next time he was in and I expained it to him "that he was just having his MOT". On speaking to the GP I was surprised to learn that they had also taken a blood test ( as he had only just had his annual thyroid blood test taken in November).Does anyone know it dementia can be diagnosed by a blood test. Is this just normal practice if a patient is being referred to a specialist for memory issues?

    Thank you

    Burfordthecat
     
  2. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Not dementia, at least not currently, but there are conditions that will be detected by running labs which can mimic dementia. I think it's just SOP to rule out anything curable.
     
  3. gigi

    gigi Registered User

    Nov 16, 2007
    7,788
    East Midlands
    They also do a full blood screen prior to prescribing drugs like Reminyl or Aricept...as Jennifer says to rule out anything else.

    Also if your dad has been losing blood they may want to check that he's not anaemic.

    love Gigi x
     
  4. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    3,518
    You don't say why you ask this, do you have reason to suspect dementia? If so, or if your dad is presenting to the GP with dementia-like symptoms, then a blood-test is often given to eliminate conditions which produce dementia-like symptoms.

    As far as I have been able to find out, there is no physical diagnostic for various forms of dementia (although, scans can detect phyical damage caused by strokes which can lead to vascual dementia). I understand that Alzheimer's Disease is one of the most difficult, and diagnosis relies almost completely on analysing symptoms and case history. Only physical examination of the brain in an autopsy can produce a definitive "yes".

    If dementia is not suspected, but blood has been detected in the urine, then a blood-test may well be to see if it is severe/persistent enough to cause anaemia. Also the tests may reveal something like a kidney infection, or problems with the prostate. Unless your dad has suspected dementia, then this is the most likely case.

    There is no "screen" for dementia by testing the blood. It works the other way around - people who present with dementia-like symtpoms are screened to eliminate other consitions, not to actually detect say Alzheimer's Disease.
     
  5. Clive

    Clive Registered User

    Nov 7, 2004
    716
    Mum had two lots of blood tests before seeing the consultant in order to rule out other causes for her memory loss. This was followed by an ECG (heart monitor) and a brain scan.

    Interestingly mum took part in a 3 year trial following her AD diagnosis. The object of the trial was to record any changes in the blood as AD progressed. Every six months she gave blood and took a variation of the mini mental test and we filled in a survey about her behaviour. Her trial finished in late 2006 but I have never heard if the trial found any useful change in blood.

    Clive
     
  6. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    715
    An untreated or inadequately treated Underactive Thyroid can cause Dementia like symptoms

    The tragedy is there are a group of Hypothyroid patients who do not respond correctly to synthetic thyroid medication and others for whom the thyroid blood tests do not tell the true picture

    these 2 situations are not readily recognised by majority of doctors and research papers are only just trickling out highlighting the problem
     
  7. burfordthecat

    burfordthecat Registered User

    Jan 9, 2008
    1,707
    Female
    Leicestershire
    Hi Nebiroth

    Thanks for the reply and the detailed information you have supplied. In answer to your question - "yes" - he is showing early signs of dementia. I initially raised my conerns to his GP over a year ago and have kept her "up to date" ever since.

    During the last six months his behaviour has been worse. My father has regular medication and I now have to give him a pre-filled dosset box each week and a daily morning phone call to remind him to take it. Just before Christmas, he was so forgetful that I had to make him take the tablets whilst I was on the phone to him, just to be sure that he took them. Other behaviour - not knowing what day of the week it is (eventhough I have bought him a dayclock to help him - I guess the reason he does not use the clock is because he has forgotten he has it :eek:). Losing all sorts of items, wallet, keys etc, not being able to recognise the correct item when he does find it. Just to fill you in with some background, my dad is in his eighties, lives on his own and is in total denial that there is anything wrong. I am his only carer, I live 1 hours drive away and have two young children. The majortiy of the time I have to "care" over the phone but sometimes I need to actually go to the house. Normally means a late night for me as I can't leave till both of my children are in bed and I usually get back after midnight. Not ideal but he is my dad and I want to do the very best I can for him.

    The GP is currently referring dad to a specialist re. memory problems but dad has stated that he will not attend the appointment. At the moment, not sure what I am going to do about this.:confused:


    Burfordthecat
     
  8. burfordthecat

    burfordthecat Registered User

    Jan 9, 2008
    1,707
    Female
    Leicestershire
    Hi Helena

    I read your post with interest. Dad does have a thyroid condition (of about 30 years now) but he has an overactive thyroid. He takes daily medication for it and gets an annual blood test to show if the levels are correct. He was last checked in November and everything was said to be in order. Interesting though, if he was taking to much carbizamole then he would have an underactive thyroid and maybe give the dementia like symptoms. I will mention this to the GP next time I speak.:)

    Burfordthecat
     
  9. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    715
    Given the furthur info you have posted and your Fathers age and my own experience with my mother I would be more inclined to suspect he might have vascular dementia .......has he had any blank spells ........long silences on the phone .....odd dizzy spells ...days in bed ...lost interest in things ........does he have wide mood variations

    The vehement refusal to see consultants /doctors is typical of many elderly people but IMHE it appears to be more profound in those with VD ...not sure whether they are scared of being faced with the truth or whether its part of the disease process
     
  10. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    3,518
    #10 Nebiroth, Feb 1, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
    I would speak to the GP about it. It may be possible for the GP to "order" your dad into going. Of course, the GP can't actually make dad do anything he doesn't want to do, but a "no nonsense" approach with clear instructions may do the trick. Most people, particularly older people, regard the doctor as an authority figure who they are reluctant to "disobey".

    My dad constantly says he won't do this or that, but it is just hot air.

    You may find that telling your dad "if you won't go to the appointment, I shall call the doctor and YOU can explain why you are refusing to go"

    It may also be possible to ask that the specialist visit dad at home. He may find that less threatening.

    Unfortunately the things you describe are "normal". It quite possible that dad has forgotten the clock, or how to tell the time, or simply doesn't believe it - most people with dementia are completely convinced they are right and everything else is wrong. Denial is typical - to them, there *is* nothing wrong.
     
  11. burfordthecat

    burfordthecat Registered User

    Jan 9, 2008
    1,707
    Female
    Leicestershire
    #11 burfordthecat, Feb 1, 2008
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
    Hi Helena

    Once again, another interesting posting. I too have been considering that dad may be suffering from vascular demenita. So many posting relating to vascular dementiaI which Ihave read are saying things which are "my dad". In answer to your questions

    1. Does he have blank spells? well slightly, I can be speaking to him and he just seems to become "vague" and then goes back to normal.

    2.Long silences on the phone? Again slightly, I am sometimes having to wait longer than normal to get a reply but not really long.

    3.He is not suffering big mood swings, but does at times seem to be distant.

    4. I am not aware of any dizzy spells and he does not spend days in bed.

    Is it possible to have vascular dementia without having a stroke. Is it any easier to diagnose than AD. Sorry about the lack of my knowledge but how different ,long term, is Vascular Dementia to AD. Basically I am trying to find out what my dad's future may or is likely to hold. Can someone with Vascular Dementia live safely on their own? Is a sufferer able to retain their driving licence?

    Thank you
     
  12. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    715
    I can but speak from my experience but from what you say it seems to me that Vascular dementia is more likely than AD

    Thyroid problems tend to cause high blood pressure and this causes mini strokes
    The early mini strokes are barely noticed but things can progrees slowly or quickly .....age may be one factor
    i reckon my Mothers 1st real mini stroke was 5 years before her demise although i think probably the smaller ones may have started 3 yrs before that
    I do not think they should either live alone or continue to drive ...........my mothers car was evidence to that !!!
    However just you try telling them ....anything

    For now all you can do is demand a CT scan to establish the truth and once you know how severe the damage is then you can judge what your next steps will be

    Either way its a very worrying and stressful time but you have to stand back and let them have their own way because interfering simply gets you more grief and stress than you need
     
  13. burfordthecat

    burfordthecat Registered User

    Jan 9, 2008
    1,707
    Female
    Leicestershire
    Hi Helena

    Thanks again for a helpful reply. You mentioned a CT scan. Am I able to ask for this from my GP or does dad have to have a memory check in order for that to happen. This is currently the stumbling block as dad has refused to attend the appointment. If you read my posting:

    http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/talkingpoint/discuss/showthread.php?t=9557

    it will give you more details of my predicatment. Currently, I really do not know what to do for the best. Yes, it would be "helpful" to have dad assessed but I would know that I would need to lie to him in order to get him to the appointment. If he was to lose his licence because of the result he would never forgive me and would probably stop me helping him (he lives in a beautiful village which has "no" public transport:eek:. He loves his driving and uses it nearly every day). If that were to happen it would destroy all the trust that I have spent earning for the past 19 years since my mum died suddenly at home with a brain haemorrage (bad spelling I think:)). Worse than that if I don't care for him there is no-one else so the outlook is bleak. What is the right thing to do......If only I knew the answer.
     
  14. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    715
    Burford

    Given all that you have written about your Father and that you feel safe driving with him I would be inclined to let sleeping dogs lie for the time being and try and step back from worrying

    Many Doctors say you have to wait for a crisis .......sounds callous but certainly that was the only way things came to a head with my Mother who was as independant/stubborn and living in an area where driving was essential

    Its highly possible that sooner or later a neighbour or someone will report him to the DVLA and then they may well force the issue

    He may go to the doctors for some other reason and they may take the chance to test him a bit

    Meanwhile it might be sensible to keep your eyes open for a suitable warden controlled/supervised place near you or even suitable homes so that you do not have to rush around when a crisis hits
     
  15. gigi

    gigi Registered User

    Nov 16, 2007
    7,788
    East Midlands
    Hello Burford..

    Yes it is possible to have vascular dementia without having had a stroke..2nd question is more difficult to answer..

    My husband has both...AD and VAD..never had a stroke.
    These were picked up on MRI scan..arranged by the consultant at the "Memory Clinic"..my husband was referred there by the GP.

    Eric was the same as your dad..in denial..somehow I managed to get him to that first appointment and then for the scan..by telling him how important it was to make sure there was nothing going on that could be treatable..everyone is different..

    The most important thing for you is to try to get your dad for a scan and take it from there (but I think I'm right in saying that only consultants can order MRI scans)

    It's hard on you..but it may not be a dementia at all-maybe your dad would see reason..might be something easily put right?

    Love and luck!!
    Gigi xx
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.