HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)- The FDA has approved marketing for the first diagnostic test for early detection of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We know that there are all sorts of forms of dementia but amyloid is the hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease and so a high presence of amyloid indicates dementia of the Alzheimer’s type,” said Clay Jacobs, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of the Greater Pennsylvania area.

The test is intended for adults 55 and older who are experiencing cognitive impairment and being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease.

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“The availability of in vitro diagnostic tests that can potentially eliminate the need for time-consuming and expensive pet scans is great news for individuals and families concerned with the possibility of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis,” said Jeff Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 6 million Americans, most 65 and older, have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

“We know now, the disease starts 8 to 10 years before you see symptoms and so while often people in their 60’s are those getting diagnosed, something l that looks at the underlying biology, and can detect earlier, certainly has potential to have greater clinical outcomes,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs says the test can give people more time, something so valuable for people living with the disease.

“If we know that we’re at a higher risk for the disease, would we change out we plan, how we travel, how we work, how we do all of these things?” said Jacobs.

The FDA says the test should be used along with other tests and evaluations. The Alzheimer’s Association says it’s important to talk to your physician.