Patients and families nationwide are excited by news of the FDA approval of Leqembi™ (lecanemab) as a new drug for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). This disease modifying therapy (DMT) is a great first step forward for confronting this debilitating condition that impacts millions of Americans.
The drug is designed to target beta-amyloid, a protein in the brain that is thought to be a cause of AD. While not a cure, the drug has shown to slow the progression of disease for people experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or those who are in the early stage of disease. This will require infusions twice per month in a clinic or hospital and is costly at $26,500 per year. Despite the hope and excitement sparked by this drug, many considerations remain, especially for primary care physicians (PCPs).
PCPs will be the first resource patients and families seek to find out if they are eligible for the drug, what kind of results they will see and what other resources are available to them. Currently, Leqembi is approved for patients in early stage AD or MCI. While PCPs will not be the ones to prescribe the drug, they will be working to support their patients’ understanding of how the drug will impact their overall health and wellbeing, ensuring there are no reactions with patients’ existing medications and discussing other ways of managing the disease.
PCPs can help patients understand their modifiable risk factors and adopt lifestyle changes that support healthy mental aging.
- Adopting an overall healthy lifestyle by maintaining normal blood pressure and blood sugar, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding drinking and smoking, caring for hearing loss and getting proper sleep.
- Maintaining a healthy diet that supports cognitive function.
- Cultivating strong social connections and maintaining a sense of community.
- Participating in light or moderate exercise.
- and avoiding head trauma.
Studies show that regular exercise can help adults at risk for AD slow cognitive decline and reducing risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, depression, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity, low education and diabetes, can reduce the prevalence of AD in the U.S.
Access to an accurate test for AD in the generalist office will become increasingly important as patients seek cost effective, easily accessible and convenient testing for AD, allowing them to receive all resources available to them. The DISCERN™ test, a highly accurate and minimally invasive skin test, empowers physicians to cost-effectively and accurately identify AD, avoiding unnecessary costs patient burden.
* The DISCERN™ test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by NeuroDiagnostics Inc, dba Synaps Dx. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. NeuroDiagnostics, Inc. is regulated under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) as an accredited laboratory to perform high complexity clinical testing. The test is intended for patients with dementia. Test results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical data available to the clinician. All rights reserved.