(WJLA) - About five million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease. If you could, would you want to know if you are at risk for it yourself?
Knowing the chances could help you and your family to prepare, but then again, there is still nothing you can do to stop it.
Researchers led by a team at Georgetown University Medical Center have developed a blood test they say can predict whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer's within three years.
"It's the most significant observation that we've been able to report in my entire scientific career," said Dr. Howard Federoff, a neurologist with the Georgetown University Medical Center.
This is how the blood test works: it checks for 10 fatty molecules called lipids, and those who have lower levels of lipids are more likely to develop the disease or the memory problems that precede it.
The change, on average, from healthy to sick takes just two years.
The test itself was more than 90-percent accurate, and the study could also be used to design new treatments for the disease.
"Any signs like this...are a sign of hope, a breakthrough and more tests can be done," said Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Researchers say that other labs need to validate this test to see if it really works. If it does, it will still be several years before it's in doctors' offices.