Can We Accurately Predict Dementia?

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It may be possible to accurately predict dementia development.

Some say ignorance is bliss.

Others say knowledge is power.

With dementia, it seems both can be true.

According to a recent MedPage Today article titled “Dementia Risk Score Touts ‘Nearly 100%’ Predictive Accuracy,” understanding dementia has long been the subject of research.

Researchers believe with more knowledge, the disease will be more preventable or treatable.

Throughout the years, multiple risk factors have been identified.

These include sleep patterns, low education levels, and age.

Common comorbidities include diabetes and cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory diseases.

Researchers from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University in China led by Dr. Xi-Jain PhD studied the medical data from the roughly 4,500 individuals included in the U.K. Biobank.

They published their findings in JAMA Network Open.

By assigning point values for dementia predictors in women and men, they may have developed a practical tool for accurately predicting the risk and development of dementia.

Although women and men share some protective factors and modifiable risk factors, independent variables were found to account for 53.35 percent of women and 31.7 percent of men who development dementia.

With this in mind, the researchers evaluated the Biobank baseline measurements.

For example, women with a history of diabetes would be given a point value of two while the men with the same ailment would be given a point value of one because the risk was greater for women.

Men could receive a score of -18 to 30 points.

Women could receive a score of -17 to 30 points.

The accuracy of the prediction was high.

For men with scores of 30, the tool predicted dementia development in men within nine years with a 97.59 percent accuracy.

For women with 30 scores, the accuracy was 99.59 percent.

When predicting for development of dementia in 13 years, the tool had almost a 100 percent accuracy.

It should be noted the exact number of participants with scores of 30 were undisclosed in the article.

When reviewing the participant data, the baseline scores were evaluated for those who did not have dementia when the baseline was taken.

Participants were grouped into either testing or training data for the purpose of internal validation.

Of the 444,695 participants, a total of 205,187 were men and 239,508 were women.

The mean age at baseline for men was 57, but the mean age for women at baseline was 56.

The rate of dementia development by 13 years after the baseline was 0.5 percent for women and 0.7 percent for men.

Those in the dementia group had an average baseline age of 65.

The number of women in this group was 1,261, and the number of men was 1,473 men.

Why is being able to accurately predict dementia development helpful?

Those who receive a false positive can become discouraged and distressed.

This can trigger negative health outcomes.

Those with false negatives may not take preventative measures to decrease their risk.

If you are concerned about your risk of dementia, talk with your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Reference: MedPage Today (Nov. 21, 2022) “Dementia Risk Score Touts ‘Nearly 100%’ Predictive Accuracy”

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