David Cameron is to announce the set up of new iPad technology to cut dementia diagnosis time from 18 months to 3 months.
This is expected to give those who are suffering with dementia 18 months extra independent living before the illness makes this too difficult, and is a big step towards finding a treatment.
The procedure will involve completing a series of tests on an iPad with their local doctor, and the results will be received within ten minutes to tell their GP if they have a normal or abnormal memory.
Those with an abnormal memory would be referred to an NHS brain health centre where they would have more in depth memory tests while hooked up to an MRI scanner, where a new programme can detect signals or dementia such as brain shrinkage and damage to blood vessels and be passed straight on to their GP.
The new technology will receive David Cameron’s backing this Thursday, and The Alzheimer’s Disease International charity says earlier diagnosis allows those with dementia to plan ahead while they still have the capacity, and crucially, make decisions about their own care.
Professor Alistair Burns, the national clinical director for dementia, said:
Combining innovative technologies in this way should help us to spot early signs of dementia, giving us time to offer patients better support and care.
The rate of successful diagnosis is expected to double from 42 per cent, to meet Camerons target for his Challenge on Dementia scheme of 80 per cent.
Mr Cameron said:
Dementia is a devastating disease that puts enormous strain on people and their families.
Prompt diagnosis makes an enormous difference to dementia sufferers.
This ground-breaking work from UK scientists and companies could change lives for the better and it underlines to the world that Britain is great for research and for business.
The Alzheimer’s Society will support the project by undertaking an initial impact assessment on the 200 patients assessed in the two trial Brain Health Centres.
Professor Clive Ballard, head of research at The Alzheimer’s Society, said that there has been an increase in deaths, attributed to both Britain’s ageing population and to a greater understanding of the disease.
Dementia is getting more common, because people are living longer.
There’s an exponential increase in dementia with age. One in 20 people over 65 have it, but that increases to one in five over 80, one in three over 90 and one in two over 95.
So once you get more and more people living beyond 80, you will get more people dying from dementia.
There has also been a new study published in the journal Lancet Neurology on diagnosing Alzheimer’s, which could catch the onset of Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear, and is hoped to lead to the prevention of the disease.
In a study of 44 adults aged 18-26, 20 had PSEN1 mutation which shows they were certain to develop Alzheimer’s.
As 45 is the average age people with the PSEN1 mutation start showing cognitive impairment, the results show that evidence of Alzheimer’s are present at least 20 years before symptoms start.
Dr Eric Reiman, of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, said:
These findings suggest that brain changes begin many years before the clinical onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and even before the onset of amyloid plaque deposition.
They raise new questions about the earliest brain changes involved in the predisposition to Alzheimer’s and the extent to which they could be targeted by future prevention therapies.