New test could predict dementia risk

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New test could predict dementia risk

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Information gathered during routine GP appointments could be used to assess the risk of developing dementia, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.

Researchers from University College London developed an algorithm – a Dementia Risk Score – which they used to assess the GP records of 930,395 randomly selected patients without previous records of dementia, cognitive impairment or memory problems.

Based on known possible risk factors for dementia, including socio-demographic measures (e.g. age, sex, social deprivation), health and lifestyle measurements (e.g. alcohol use, body mass index, blood pressure), medical diagnoses (e.g. diabetes, coronary heart disease), and use of prescription medication, the Dementia Risk Score predicts a five-year risk of dementia. The algorithm performed well in predicting risk for the 60-79 age group but not in the 80-95 age group, suggesting that a different risk assessment model or approach may be needed for this group.

Lead researcher, Kate Walters, said: “Before this score is widely used we would recommend that it is independently tested in further populations of people, and that the ethical implications of using it in practice are considered.”

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