7 Minute Screen Free, easy-to-use screening t
7 Minute Screen Free, easy-to-use screening tool can detect high risk for Alzheimer's disease
The 7 Minute Screen is a new screening tool to detect patients at high risk for Alzheimer's disease.
The cost of treating Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for 60 percent of dementia cases in the United States, is about $90 billion a year.
Half of all nursing home residents suffer from Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder. Unless a cure is discovered or preventive measures developed, by the middle of this century 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer's.
One in 10 persons over 65 and nearly half of those over 85 have Alzheimer's disease. A person with Alzheimer's will live an average of eight years and as many as 20 years or more from the onset of symptoms.
The statistics are grim, but there is hope on the horizon. Newer drugs that slow the progression of the disease have been approved or are expected on the market. New diagnostic tools, such as the 7 Minute Screen, are allowing clinicians to screen patients and learn who might be at high risk for Alzheimer's, a form of dementia that involves progressive decline in two or more areas of cognition.
Paul R. Solomon, PhD, and William W. Pendlebury, MD, co-directors of the Memory Clinic at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, in Bennington, VT, created the 7 Minute Screen. It is being distributed free to health care professionals by the Janssen Pharmaceutica/Research Foundation.
"Solomon and Pendlebury saw so many individuals in their clinic who were misdiagnosed or not properly assessed that they were convinced a tool was necessary to examine the key areas affected by Alzheimer's," explained Cynthia E. Parker, MBA, MA, RN, vice president of Client Services for the GMR Group, in Fort Washington, PA. The managed health care consultancy group is working with Janssen to educate health care workers about the screening tool.
"They looked at the key areas affected by Alzheimer's--orientation, memory, visual/ spatial and verbal fluency--and took a composite of all validated tests. Then they put together different components from different tests until they came up with the right mix for screening key areas that are altered in Alzheimer's patients."
Parker said the screen was designed so that anyone in an assisted living facility, doctor's office or other setting could do it.
Now is a good time to develop a screening test because of new treatments for Alzheimer's, she explained. "These drugs won't cure the disease but will prolong the cognitive capabilities of the individual and slow his decline."
In Alzheimer's, a reduction in acetylcholine effects a change in the transition in the neurons that causes scarring, which in turn causes mental decline because of plaque formation and neurofibrillary tangles.
"If we screen people and diagnose the condition earlier before it is noticeable on the CT scan and can keep the level of acetylcholine higher in the synapses longer, there are marked cost savings in care and a much better quality of life for the patient," Parker said.
The free validated screening kit contains a video to train all users of the tool, a spiral-bound laminated book containing the screen itself, a calculator to tally the scores after assessment, and a score pad to record scores.
"In order to use this test properly, all individuals who screen patients must be trained by using the video," Parker said. "You cannot have one member of your staff view the film and then go back and train others. This is critical to maintain consistency--so that everyone is trained the same."
In screening an individual there should be no watch, clock or calendar on the table or in view of the client. Screeners must use only the words on the screening tool and must not say anything more or less.
The screen tests a patient's memory ability. For example, a client will be shown a page with four pictures--grapes, a tiger, a foot and a desk. The screener will say, "There's a piece of fruit on this page; what is it?" or "There's an animal on this page; what is it?" If the client answers incorrectly, the screener is prompted to say, "No, those are grapes," and so on.
Then the client is shown a blank page and is asked to recall what kind of fruit, animal, body part, or item of furniture was displayed on the previous page.
Throughout the process, the screener is cautioned never to use the word "test."
Thousands of screening tests have been distributed to health care professionals at conferences and medical meetings, and Janssen is hoping to distribute even more.
"Most clinicians and researchers don't have a lot of money," said Parker. "That's why Janssen funded the production of the video and the packets. If we pick up Alzheimer's early enough, we can't help but wonder what the impact will be on outcomes of the disease."
To obtain a free copy of the 7 Minute Screen, call 800-526-7736 or log on to the Janssen website at www.7minutescreen.com and click on Health Care Professionals.
Gail Guterl is on staff at ADVANCE.