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Is Alzheimer’s testing ethical?

Is Alzheimer’s testing ethical?
19th July 2012

Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can often experience mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, and there is much debate over the ethics of testing for the condition.

Diagnostic tools are now available to identify the plaques and tangles present in an individual with early-onset Alzheimer’s.

However, the disease is untreatable and options for controlling the condition are relatively limited.

Opinion is split over the morality of giving an early diagnosis when there are no treatments available.

However, Dr Jason Karlawish, professor in Geriatric Medicine as well as Medical Ethics and Health Policy in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, stated: “It is important to track the impact of revealing biomarker results to asymptomatic individuals, so we can develop and disseminate best practices.”

He continued that since an increased risk of Alzheimer’s does not necessarily mean a person will go on to get it, as long as safeguards are in place early testing is beneficial.

Previous studies have also called for more emphasis to be put on managing the emotional fall-out after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Find out more about Alzheimer's disease care at Barchester homes