In a press release today, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation stated that Medicare Evidence Development and Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) denied reimbursement for PET brain imaging scans in patients with cognitive impairment being evaluated for Alzheimer's disease.
The Medicare coverage would help physicians rule out a diagnoses of Alzheimer's in patients who were experiencing memory loss and other early signs of dementia not caused by Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's is difficult to diagnose in the early stages without a brain scan. Unable to rule out Alzheimer's, doctors would have to take a wait and see stance until patients presented with more definitive symptoms. This time spent waiting would allow Alzheimer's disease to advance. The patient would not receive FDA medications that are safe and effective for treating Alzheimer's disease.
A window of opportunity would close for early treatment against the advanced stages of a disease that robs people of their memories, physical functions for self-care, ability to think and reason and ultimately, life itself.
The ability to rule out the disease could point physicians in a different direction. There are other medical reasons why people exhibit signs of dementia not related to Alzheimer's. Often, these other conditions can be greatly improved or reversed naturally by changes in diet or by adding stress management and/or physical exercise.
There are no natural remedies or treatments known for treating Alzheimer's. Approximately 100 million Americans are currently age 50 or older. Alzheimer's is the third most costly disease after heart disease and cancer, according to the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation.