Types of dementia: Scientists reveal how to spot the signs, nine years before diagnosis

According to a new study, it may be possible to detect signs of dementia up to nine years before diagnosis.

The findings, published in Alzheimer’s and dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer’s Associationmean that future at-risk patients could be screened to help identify those who could benefit from early interventions to reduce their risk of developing dementia-related diseases.

They could also help select those suitable for clinical trials of new treatments.

“When we looked at the patients’ histories, it became clear that they had cognitive impairment for several years before their symptoms became obvious enough to trigger a diagnosis,” said study author Nol Swaddiwudhipong. junior doctor at the University of Cambridge.

“The impairments were often subtle, but across a number of aspects of cognition. It’s a step forward for us to be able to screen those most at risk – for example, people over 50 or those with high blood pressure or who don’t exercise enough – and to intervene earlier to help them reduce their risk. ”

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank database and identified problem solving and number recall as two of the early signs that patients might be developing dementia.

Lead author Dr Tim Rittman, also from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘People shouldn’t be overly concerned if, for example, they can’t remember numbers.

“Even some healthy people will naturally score better or worse than their peers. But we encourage anyone who has concerns or notices that their memory or recall is getting worse to talk to their GP.

People in the UK Biobank data who developed Alzheimer’s disease performed worse than healthy people on problem-solving tasks, reaction times, memorizing lists of digits, prospective memory (our ability to remember to do something later) and pair. corresponding to.

This was also the case for people who developed a rarer form of dementia known as frontotemporal dementia, the researchers found.

Not remembering numbers could be an early sign of dementia

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

According to the study, people who developed Alzheimer’s disease were more likely than healthy adults to have fallen in the previous 12 months.

David Thomas, policy manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “It is increasingly clear that the best chance of influencing the course of the diseases that cause dementia lies in intervening at their earliest stages. .

“Health services do not routinely offer the tests needed to detect changes in brain function that occur before symptoms are noticeable, such as those hinted at in this study.

“In fact, the NHS is currently unable to guarantee early and accurate diagnosis for people with dementia – more than a third of people over 65 with dementia go undiagnosed.

He added: “It is now more important than ever that NHS services reflect our growing understanding of the importance of early detection and diagnosis.

“We need to ensure that people with dementia do not fall through the cracks at a time when treatment or risk reduction interventions are most likely to be effective.

Additional reports per AP

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