MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A nationwide study is underway that could improve the standard of care for Alzheimer’s Disease.

The focus is on brain images – that may be able to help doctors determine if someone has Alzheimer’s.

An image of the brain taken by a nuclear PET scan could show doctors the evidence they look for when diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease.

A positive scan, says Neurologist Dr. Hamid Sami, “Means patients have significant amount of amyloid buildup.”

Dr. Sami says that is significant because “There is new evidence that over time the amyloid plaque build up can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and even 20 years before patients develop signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s.”

Patients could benefit from these images – if the PET scan is made available as a diagnostic tool.

That’s the concept behind the study, the Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning – The IDEAS Study – which is looking for Medicare patients to take part.

The PET scan has been primarily used in research.

“I hope the study will show,” says Dr. Sami, “the value of the PET Scan in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia so it can become part of the standard of care and also commercial insurances can accept that and we can diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier on.”

Dr. Sami is an IDEAS Study dementia specialist — who determined that 73-year-old Barbara Conner was an ideal candidate.

Barbara explains, “I am forgetting a word here and a name there, just what they call, oh that’s normal forgetfulness but it was just getting to be a little annoying.”

The scan showed what Barbara wanted to know, “Yes, that’s when they found the plaque that indicates dementia.”

She is now on medication.

“The purpose of the medicine is to postpone or to slow down and maybe just live out my life without being institutionalized,” says Barbara.

And to get her life in order, “I think the whole purpose of knowing is such that you can plan.”

With no cure – early treatment can slow down Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Sami says, “We can help patients to stay longer with their family members, stay longer at home, reduce cost of nursing home placement and overall improve a patient’s quality of life.”

The hope is the study will lead to Medicare approving the PET Scan as a tool to diagnose Alzheimer’s — followed by the insurance companies.

To participate, you must be on Medicare — 65 years of age or older – with ongoing memory problems or confusion – with the cause not yet clear.

For more information call Dr. Sami at the CT Neurological Specialist Center – 203-630-1000, 455 Lewis Avenue Suite 202, Meriden CT 06451

**Located at MidState Medical Center

or click here.