Age Management Medicine News: August 2021 – #3

New AI System Could Diagnose Dementia in a DAY, Docs Discover

Terri-Ann Williams

Aug. 10, 2021  (The Sun) — At present it takes several scans to diagnose dementia and scientists have claimed the new technology could help improve the quality of life for patients.

Dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the UK with around 850,000 Brits currently living with the condition.

Dementia is a condition that refers to a group of disorders affecting brain functioning – and there are many different types and causes.

Now experts at Cambridge University have developed a scan that could also predict whether the condition will remain stable and how fast a patient might need to be treated.

Pre-clinical trials will be carried out at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and other centres across the country and will test if the technology will work in a clinical setting.

Around 500 people are expected to participate with the results then being sent to their doctors, who if necessary will then be able to advise on treatment.

Prof Zoe Kourtzi, of Cambridge University explained that if doctors intervene early when it comes to dementia, then treatments can kick in faster and slow the progression of the illness.

She explained that it’s likely that symptoms occur later in life or ‘not at all’.

Prof Kourtzi’s test works by comparing brain scans of those who are concerned that they have dementia, with thousands of people who have already been diagnosed with the condition.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form, affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.

It tends to be associated with the elderly, but there are over 42,000 people under 65 with dementia in the UK.

There’s no cure for any type of dementia, but delaying onset by five years would halve the number of deaths from the condition, according to Alzheimer’s UK.

To pick it up early, it’s important to know what to look out for.

Here are the 8 warning signs:

  1. Short term memory
  2. Mood swings
  3. Loss of interest
  4. Lack of focus
  5. Rash decisions
  6. Losing sense of direction
  7. Getting confused
  8. Familiar tasks becoming challenging

The algorithm is then able to identify patterns in the scans.

The AI system is so detailed that it is even able to see signs that expert neurologists might miss.

It then matches the information to patient outcomes in a database.

Dr Laura Phipps at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Artificial intelligence systems like this are currently being applied to many aspects of healthcare, drawing on the insights from huge datasets to help doctors make more informed decisions about diagnosis, treatment and care.

“To diagnose dementia today, doctors need to rely on the interpretation of brain scans and cognitive tests, often over a period of time.

“Machine learning models such as those being developed by Prof Kourtzi could give doctors greater confidence in interpreting scans, leading to a more accurate diagnosis for patients.”

Study lead consultant neurologist Dr Tim Rittman told the BBC that the AI system is a ‘fantastic development’.

He said: “These set of diseases are really devastating for people.

“So when I am delivering this information to a patient, anything I can do to be more confident about the diagnosis, to give them more information about the likely progression of the disease to help them plan their lives is a great thing to be able to do.”

Recently experts revealed how the colour of your diet could help protect you against Alzheimer’s.

A study in the US also found that the way someone drives could be key in detecting dementia.