Most of us know what a colonoscopy or an endoscopy is but are probably unfamiliar with what a “cognoscopy” is. Just as a colonoscopy looks at the colon as a preventative procedure against more advanced colon cancer, cognoscopy refers to a battery of tests that look at the status of and the factors that may cause cognitive decline. The term was coined by Dale Bredesen, MD, the developer of the only treatment protocol to have shown success with cognitive decline. While most appreciate having a colonoscopy by age 50, few appreciate the importance of cognoscopy.
The value of cognoscopy is that it looks at broad groups of risk factors that have been associated with the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. The importance of this lies in two areas. The first is that while colon cancer causes just over 50,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, Alzheimer’s causes 500,000 in just the 75 year-old or older population, or ten times more than colon cancer across all age groups. Alzheimer’s is now the 3rd leading cause of death in seniors. While all other of the top ten causes of death have declined over the past 14 years, Alzheimer’s deaths have risen dramatically.
The second concern that should heighten the importance of cognoscopy is that an innovative new protocol for prevention and treatment, the Bredesen protocol, is most effective early in the disease process. By the time the disease is well established and diagnosed the success of treatment is diminished. Beginning early is paramount and ideally the changes that may be identified by the cognoscopy should be managed before symptoms begin.
Our best defense against what many neuroscientists have called our greatest impending health crisis is to get ahead of the process. “Cognoscopy” isolates the variables that drive the disease leading to a program of correction while there is still time. It may be the most important test anyone could have after the age of 50 years.