Background: It is quite common that people suffering from cognitive impairment only visit a doctor when the symptoms have already reached an advanced stage. This is often due to a fear of Alzheimer’s disease or a dread of exhausting diagnostic procedures and exposure of personal details; however, an early diagnosis and therapy increases the chance of preserving the quality of life for a longer period of time.
Objectives: Evaluation of a risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with respect to the acceptance and value by participants.
Methods: In this prospective preventive study 106 subjects between the age of 39 and 89 years (median age 68 years) with general risk factors were included and underwent a risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease by standard MRI of the brain using a 1 T open MRI with subsequent hippocampal volumetry. Participants were stratified into two distinct subgroups according to the individual hippocampal atrophy status, one with elevated and the other with reduced risk. All participants were thoroughly interviewed regarding anxieties and mental well-being before and after the risk assessment.
Results: As expected, participants with a reduced risk had a significant improvement in well-being and a reduction of fears and worries after the examination. Neither a significant deterioration of the mental situation nor an increase of fears and worries was found for participants with an elevated risk. Of the participants 90% stated that MRI-based risk stratification generated positive perspectives for the future. The assessment revealed a high acceptance by most of the participants (94%).
Conclusion: An MRI-based risk assessment is beneficial to the patient’s quality of life and as a low threshold approach may induce more individuals with concerns to take advantage of an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.