AAICPD: Low-Tech Tool Predicts Six-Year Risk of Dementia

June 11, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The risk of developing dementia within six years can be predicted by a simple assessment tool that relies on clinical impression and patient history, researchers reported here.

WASHINGTON, June 11 -- The risk of developing dementia within six years can be predicted by a simple assessment tool that relies on clinical impression and patient history, researchers reported here.

The key indicators were older age, non-white race, poor cognitive function, poor physical performance, extreme inactivity, history of bypass surgery, low body mass index, and lack of alcohol consumption (ROC, 0.79; 95% CI: 0.76 - 0.81; accuracy, 87%), said Deborah F. Barnes, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco.

The score based on these factors ranged from 0 to 14 points, and the risk of developing dementia was 6% in those with low scores (0-3 points), compared with 25% in those with moderate scores (4-6 points), and 54% in patients with high scores (?7), she reported at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Prevention of Dementia.

Moreover, evaluation of these factors can be performed in a physician's office or at bedside in a hospital by a nurse practitioner or a physician's assistant, Dr. Barnes found.

She noted that this low-tech model was not as accurate as one that incorporates MRI and other expensive tests. By statistical analysis the high-tech model was significantly better (P

Additionally, she said that several studies have suggested lifestyle interventions, specifically both mental and physical exercise, that have been associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

"It would be reasonable to initiate both an exercise program and a program of mental drills or exercises such as word puzzles in patients who are identified as high risk for dementia," she said.