British scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to spot signs of brain impairment in patients up to nine years before the final clinical diagnosis is made. A step forward towards better care for patients with dementia.
Nearly 82 million people could be victims of dementia in 2030, and 152 million by 2050, estimates the World Health Organization (WHO). This disease, very widespread and yet still little known, results in a deterioration of memory, behavioral and thought disorders, or even in difficulties in carrying out certain tasks of daily life. To improve its detection, British researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have just identified seven signs of cerebral deficiency visible up to nine years before the diagnosis of the disease. Results that may allow the development of treatments that are more suitable for patients in the future.
What are the warning signs that should alert?
“There are currently very few effective treatments for dementia or other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease“, explains in the introduction the University of Cambridge in an article. Until now, researchers did not know if it was possible to detect changes in brain function before the first symptoms appear. It is by analyzing the data from the Biobank, which contains information on the health and medical history of 500,000 Britons aged 40 to 69, that scientists were able to observe seven warning signs of deficiencies in patients who developed, years later, a form Dementia of the Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s type.The domains are varied: difficulty in solving problems, memorizing numbers and associating similar objects, poor reaction time, frequent falls, poorer state of health and finally losses. of memories.
The benefits of early disease detection
For the authors of this study, these results bring hope that patients at risk will be detected more quickly and easily, in order to support them as effectively as possible. “We encourage anyone who has concerns or notices that their memory or recall is deteriorating to speak to their GP“, prompts Tim Rittman from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge. Furthermore, this could have a positive effect on the development of more targeted treatments. “The problem with clinical trials is that, out of necessity, we often recruit patients who already have a diagnosis, but we know that at this point it is already too late and their condition cannot be stopped. If we can find these people early enough, we’ll have a better chance of seeing if the drugs are working.“, concluded Dr. Rittman.
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