Should everyone at risk of Alzheimer’s get a brain scan?

PET scans can help determine if a patient has brain amyloid—commonly associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s—but some experts believe the decision to undergo a scan shouldn’t be so simple.

A recent story in the New York Times analyzed the positives and potential negatives of undergoing an amyloid PET scan to gain insight into one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Those in the pro-scan corner argue having Medicare cover the scans—which it currently does not—could help patients make important lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, to help reduce dementia. Some may even get a head start on advanced care planning, according to the Times.

Others argue that having knowledge of amyloid deposition isn’t particularly helpful since, as it stands, there’s not much that can be done. And even then, not everyone with preclinical Alzheimer’s will go on to suffer from the disease.

“Even if a scan cost zero dollars, I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Ken Covinsky, MD, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, to the Times. “Do you really want to know that you have amyloid in your brain, years ahead of cognitive problems that may never develop?”

Read the entire story below.