Q: I don't know if I should talk to someone about my brain health. Who is a good candidate for Center for Brain Health?
A: If you took the Brain Health Quiz and answered "yes" to at least one of the questions, you may be at risk for Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder (e.g. Parkinson's disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and are a good candidate for Center for Brain Health.
Q: Who is not a good candidate for Center for Brain Health?
A: If you took the Brain Health Quiz and answered "no" to all of the questions, or if you are not concerned about your brain health, you may not be ready to engage in our risk assessment, surveillance, and intervention services.
If you have a memory or movement disorder, or an established diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or related brain disorders, you are not a good candidate for Center for Brain Health. Instead, you should be seen in our Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders or Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders programs.
Q: What types of services does the Center for Brain Health offer?
A: All Center for Brain Health patients receive a comprehensive neurological health assessment to confirm that you do not have early signs of a memory or movement disorder. Based on your personalized risk assessment, you may elect to receive:
- Diagnostic and genetic testing to define your risks.
- Prescribed medical and integrative treatments.
- Periodic reassessments of your brain health and of the effects of the treatments.
- Coaching by a healthcare professional to support lifestyle, dietary or behavioral changes.
- Information on the latest medical advances relating to brain health.
- Access to clinical trials aiming to maximize brain health.
Q: Why do I need a neurologist in addition to my primary care physician?
A: Center for Brain Health neurologists are specially trained to evaluate and manage brain health. We will evaluate your current status and risks for brain disorders, and develop an improvement and maintenance plan personalized to your medical needs and lifestyle, including diagnostic testing and multidisciplinary interventions. Our neurologists will also work with your primary care physician to co-manage general medical conditions or habits that increase your risk for brain disorders.
Q: Why can't I manage this on my own using information online?
A: We are very supportive of individuals improving their brain health using information available on the Internet; however, you may have risk factors that escape your attention, or that require evaluation and management by a neurologist specialized in brain health. Center for Brain Health experts can provide a personalized risk assessment and prevention plan to deliver the best health for your brain, and refer you to additional, licensed services listed above.
Q: Will my insurance pay for this?
A: The initial office visit and routine laboratory assessments are typically covered by insurance (preventive health). Other services may be covered depending on your plan. After you and your neurologist develop a care plan, our care coordinators will assist you to determine which costs are covered. We will always inform you of potential out-of-pocket costs before moving forward.
Q: What can I expect at my first visit?
A: Your neurologist will evaluate your risk factors and your brain's health via comprehensive clinical assessments using advanced tools built into the electronic medical record system. Depending on your health status and your needs, a care coordinator will assist you in scheduling additional tests and services, and in determining your insurance coverage.
Q: Why do I have to come back every year?
A: A regular review of your changing risk factors over time and close surveillance of your brain's health and the effects of your treatments are an important part of maintaining healthy cognitive function throughout your life. Yearly check-ups allow our neurologists to detect the earliest signs of illness; treating illness early allows for best outcomes.
Q: Will I require brain imaging to be seen in the Center?
A: Brain imaging is not required prior to your Center for Brain Health visit. Imaging may be ordered dependent on your neurologist's assessments or your concerns. We will always inform you of potential out-of-pocket costs of elective brain imaging.
Q: Who are the doctors who can talk to me about my brain health?
A: Your first appointment will be with a neurologist specializing in brain health. The multidisciplinary Center for Brain Health team is led by Demetrius Maraganore, MD, Chairman of Neurology, Medical Director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute, and Director of the Center for Brain Health.
Q: What is the use of genetic testing for diseases like Alzheimer's that have no cures at this point?
A: One in five women and one in ten men will get Alzheimer's in their lifetime; however some individuals have a higher genetic risk. Your lifetime risk for Alzheimer's disease can be as low as 5% but as high as 70% depending on your APOE genotype (common variations in a gene called apolipoprotein E, or APOE, are highly correlated to risk of Alzheimer's disease). Persons with the highest risk for the disease begin to accumulate brain changes as early as their 20s. Knowing you carry the lowest genetic risk can be very reassuring, especially in persons with other risk factors for Alzheimer's disease. Knowing you have a higher genetic risk can motivate you to engage at the earliest possible time in treatments that may prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Q: Can anything be done for people who carry the APOE gene risk variant?
A: Yes! Even those with the highest-risk APOE genotype can engage in a brain health program, including risk assessments, surveillance and targeted interventions. The interventions may include vigorous daily aerobic exercise, cognitive exercises, strict adherence to a Mediterranean diet, nutraceuticals, and medical management of up to 20 modifiable risk factors. There is also the opportunity to participate in clinical trials as primary prevention.