Photo via TopNewsHealth Though the research needs to be validated with further studies, a new study published in the online issue of Neurology today, proposes a 15 point scale to identify persons at risk for Alzheimer's disease, if they are over 65 years old.
The study, known as the Cardiovascular Health Study, examined 3,375 persons with an average age of 76 and no evidence of dementia, and followed them for six years. During the six years, 480 or 14 percent of the group, developed Alzheimer's. In retrospect, the researchers developed the 15 point index based on which factors would have predicted Alzheimer's disease in these persons.
The scale being proposed suggests that persons with a score of 8 on a scale of 15 are at high risk for developing Alzheimer's disease within the next 6 years. The factors on the scale include older age, having a gene linked to the disease, low scores on thinking skills, being underweight, being a non-drinker (alcohol), having had coronary bypass disease, and slowness at completing simple physical tasks.
In the test group, of the 480 persons who did succumb to Alzheimer's, 56 percent had scores of 8 or higher on the index, 23 percent had moderate scores, and 4 percent had low scores.
The study author, Deborah E Barnes of the University of California, San Francisco said that scores on the index could be used "to identify people at high risk for dementia for studies on new drugs
or prevention methods. The tool could also identify people who have no
signs of dementia but should be monitored closely, allowing them to
begin treatment as soon as possible, and potentially helping them
maintain their thinking and memory skills and quality of life longer."
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute on
Aging, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
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