- News Releases
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: How soon can Alzheimer’s disease be diagnosed? What are the early symptoms to watch for? ANSWER: There is no one test that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. But based on an assessment of symptoms, along with a variety of tests and exams, Alzheimer’s can often be identified in its earliest stages. Seeking medical attention as soon as Alzheimer’s symptoms become noticeable is key to a prompt diagnosis. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is forgetfulness. Distinguishing between memory loss that is due to aging and memory loss due to Alzheimer’s can be tricky, though. As people get older, the number of cells, or neurons, in the brain goes down. That can make it harder to learn new things or to remember familiar words. Older adults may have difficulty coming up with names of acquaintances, for example, or they may have trouble finding reading glasses or car keys. In most cases, these memory lapses do not signal the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Eleven years ago I developed deep vein thrombosis, which led to a pulmonary embolism. A vena cava filter was put in place, and I’ve been on warfarin since that time. Will I ever be able to discontinue warfarin and take aspirin instead? Would changing my diet allow me to eventually stop taking warfarin? ANSWER: This is a very common and important question for people in your situation. How long you need to continue to take warfarin depends on several factors. They include the circumstances surrounding the development of your deep vein thrombosis and whether you have had any recurrences since then. As you and your doctor consider your long-term treatment plan, your medical history and your preferences should be taken into consideration, too. Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, happens when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. DVT is a serious condition because the blood clot can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and become stuck in your lungs, blocking blood flow. This condition, called a pulmonary embolism, can be life-threatening if it is not treated right away. When a DVT results in pulmonary embolism, it is known as venous thromboembolism.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Is preventative surgery an option for people with a strong genetic predisposition to pancreatic cancer? If not, are there any screening tests that can catch it early? ANSWER: Although removing the pancreas is a possibility for people who have a strong family history of pancreatic cancer, it is used only rarely as a means of preventing the disease. That’s because there are significant health risks associated with not having a pancreas. No formal screening methods are in place for this type of cancer. But certain imaging exams may be able to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages. Your pancreas is located in your abdomen, behind the lower part of your stomach. One of its main jobs is to make insulin, a hormone that regulates the transfer of sugar, or glucose, from your bloodstream into your cells. The pancreas also makes enzymes that aid in your body’s digestion.
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Last year I had an allergic reaction (swollen lips and face, itching around the neck and jawline) after getting the flu shot. Since then I found out I am allergic to thimerosal. Is it safe for me to get the vaccine this year? ANSWER: It is likely you can find a vaccine that you can take safely. There are influenza vaccines available that do not contain thimerosal. Before you get the vaccine again, make an appointment to see a doctor who specializes in allergies. That specialist can do tests to check your allergies and help you find an influenza vaccine that is safe for you. Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection that often causes fever, chills, coughing and headaches. In people who have other diseases or medical conditions, and in healthy people older than 50, the flu can lead to serious illness that may require hospitalization. Each year thousands of people die as a result of complications from the flu.