Would you like to know in advance if you are getting Alzheimer's?

Improved Alzheimer's diagnosis - but no cure in sight

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. There is currently no established treatment that can cure, stop, or significantly slow the disease. At the same time, the diagnostic techniques for recognizing the disease are getting better and better. Would you like to know if you or a close relative will develop Alzheimer's?

In the current report “Detecting and Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease”, researchers from Alzheimer's Research UK investigated whether and when people would like to know whether they will suffer from the currently incurable Alzheimer's disease. Because the latest diagnostic methods enable the disease to be recognized long before the first symptoms appear.

When is an Alzheimer's diagnosis appropriate?

Due to advances in the diagnosis of the disease, researchers and doctors are now asking when it is appropriate to tell someone if and when they will develop Alzheimer's. For example, a new blood test detects Alzheimer's before the first symptoms.

Do I get Alzheimer's?

This is understandably a scary question. New diagnostic methods recognize early on whether Alzheimer's dementia will develop. Since there is currently no cure or treatment, Alzheimer’s Research UK asked in a survey when people would like to know if they will develop Alzheimer's disease.

Three quarters of the participants want to know beforehand

Interviews with 2,000 people showed that almost three quarters (74 percent) want to know in advance whether they will get Alzheimer's. 33 percent of the participants stated that they only wanted to know it two years before symptoms appeared. 38 percent would like to know 15 years in advance.

The results of this report show that the public mostly wants to know early on whether a person will develop Alzheimer's, although it may take decades for serious symptoms to appear after diagnosis.

What are the advantages of early diagnosis?

In the current diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia, damage has already occurred that is, as far as we know today, irreversible. Current efforts are therefore focused on early stages of the disease. In order to be able to intervene at an early stage, the disease must of course be discovered early.

Research into the early treatment of Alzheimer's

A large-scale early diagnosis would be crucial, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK, to drive ongoing research into early therapies. For example, a potential drug is currently under development to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, provided that the disease is still at an early stage. Should such a drug be approved, the entire diagnosis would have to change accordingly. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Alzheimer's Research UK: Detecting and diagnosing Alzheimer's disease (accessed: December 29, 2019),
  • Professor Jonathan Schott: When would you want to know you had Alzheimer's disease? (Accessed: December 29, 2019),

Video: Understanding Alzheimers Disease AD (January 2022).