Harvard Men's Health Watch

High-tech scan reveals protein in the brain linked to Alzheimer's disease

A new brain scan called amyloid PET scanning can detect levels of beta amyloid, an abnormal brain protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Many older people who do not have Alzheimer’s dementia have a significant amount of amyloid protein in their brains, so amyloid PET scans can’t be used as a general test for Alzheimer’s in people whose minds and memory are still functioning within the normal range. However, the test can be helpful when the disease is suspected but still needs to be confirmed. The test is very expensive and may not be covered by insurance. Unless the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services decides to pay for amyloid PET scanning outside of research studies, its use will probably remain an out-of-pocket expense.
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