warning signs 9 years before diagnosis?

A new study that may point the way to treatments that may be effective before symptoms appear.

Wednesday, October 12, the review Alzheimers & Dementia relayed the results of a study by researchers from the Department of Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge, UK.

They analyzed part of the information present in the vast UK Biobank medical database, which is the basis of many studies. According to them, it would be possible to detect diseases linked to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s. up to 10 years before a diagnosis is made.

Health data and tests

So data from 500,000 British citizens aged 40 to 69 were analyzed. Data also including results of various tests such as problem solving, memory, reaction times and number of falls, grip strength. Losses or on the contrary weight gains were also listed.

The data collected was then compared with that collected 5 to 9 years earlier.

What result?

Nol Swaddiwudhipong, one of the authors of the study, summarizes:

When we reviewed the patients’ histories, it became clear that they had cognitive impairment for several years before their symptoms became evident enough to trigger a diagnosis.

More concretely, reports Yahoo! News, participants who had developed Alzheimer’s disease performed less well than healthy ones on problem-solving tasks, reaction time, memorization of lists of numbers, or prospective memory and pair matching. Also, a fall in the previous 12 months was more common.

More effective screening, earlier diagnosis

Lead author Dr. Tim Rittman adds:

People shouldn’t be overly concerned if, for example, they can’t remember numbers (…) But we encourage anyone who has concerns or notices that their memory or memories are deteriorating to talk to your doctor.

Also according to him, the results obtained can allow the identification of people likely to participate in clinical trials for new treatments. The reason is this:

The problem with clinical trials is that they often enroll patients with a diagnosis, but we know that by then they have already come a long way 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..

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