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Tell-tale signs of Alzheimer's 'in twice as many people as thought'



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Alzheimer's disease probably affects twice as many people as current estimates suggest, experts believe, but sufferers are yet to show symptoms.

Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota have been re-evaluating the prevalence of the disease using brain imaging to give a definitive assessment of the numbers affected.

However, tests on 2,500 people found twice as many as expected had the tell-tale signs of protein plaques and tangles in the brain that are the marks of the disease, even though they were not yet experiencing dementia.

Dr Cliff Jack, a professor of Alzheimer's research at the Mayo Clinic, said the prevalence of the condition was at present "based on clinical assessment, 'do you have dementia?'

"But as a general rule the prevalence of amyloid [protein plaques] and tau [tangles] as denoted by bio-markers is about two times higher," he said. "Classically defined Alzheimer's undercounts people who have the pathology but do not have symptoms."

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