Dementia: Artificial intelligence could easily & quickly help to determine your risk – how


    Despite numerous research and studies, diagnosing dementia remains a conundrum for healthcare professionals. Now, artificial intelligence may be able to help combat this problem. In pre-clinical tests, artificial intelligence diagnoses has been able to determine one’s risk, years before symptoms develop, even when there are no obvious signs of damage on the brain scan.

    “If we intervene early, the treatments can kick in early and slow down the progression of the disease and at the same time avoid more damage,” said Professor Zoe Kourtzi, of Cambridge University and a fellow of national centre for AI and data science The Alan Turing Institute.

    “And it’s likely that symptoms occur much later in life or may never occur.”

    The algorithm system works by comparing brain scans of those worried of their dementia risk and compares it to those of thousands of dementia patients including their relevant medical records.

    If successful, patterns in the scans could match them to patient outcomes in its database – something even expert neurologists are unable to do.

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    There is no one test to determine if someone has dementia.

    Doctors diagnose Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia based on a careful medical history, a physical examination, laboratory tests, and the characteristic changes in thinking, day-to-day function and behaviour associated with each type.

    Doctors can determine that a person has dementia with a high level of certainty, said the Alzheimer’s Association.

    The health charity added: “But it’s harder to determine the exact type of dementia because the symptoms and brain changes of different dementias can overlap. In some cases, a doctor may diagnose dementia and not specify a type.

    “If this occurs, it may be necessary to see a specialist such as a neurologist, psychiatrist, psychologist or geriatrician.”

    Consultant neurologist Dr Tim Rittman, who is leading the study with neuroscientists at Cambridge University, called the artificial intelligence system a “fantastic development”.

    “These set of diseases are really devastating for people,” he said.

    “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.”

    The artificial trial will take place in memory clinics around the UK and will test whether it could work in a clinical setting.

    In the first year, roughly 500 patients will participate with their results going to their healthcare professional to decide the best treatment thereafter.

    Early symptoms of dementia include:

    • Memory loss that affects day-to-day abilities
    • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
    • Problems with language
    • Disorientation in time and space
    • Impaired judgement
    • Problems with abstract thinking
    • Misplacing things
    • Changes in mood and behaviour
    • Changes in personality
    • Loss of imitative.

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