Doctors can now predict Alzheimer’s for patients with mild cognitive impairment with a 75 percent accuracy using only neuropsychological tests, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
The KCDC said it developed a cost-effective model that predicts dementia onset in the next three years with results from neuropsychological tests, which are a series of tasks designed to help doctors find out how damage to the brain affects one’s ability to reason, concentrate, solve problems or remember.
The new model provides a clear advantage over costly amyloid PET scans not recommended for patients without dementia, although PET scans do tout 91 percent prediction accuracy, it said.
Co-developed by the KCDC and the National Institute of Health (NIH), the model is based on a nomogram that uses brain tests to create a neuropsychological profile on four risk factors: age, memory impairment, the degree of memory impairment, and cognitive impairment. A nomogram is a diagram representing the relations between three or more variable quantities and the relationship between them.
The model was proven effective in a longitudinal multi-center study by a research team led by Professor Seo Sang-won from Samsung Medical Center. The trial on 338 patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) proved the nomogram could be used in aMCI subjects to predict whether they developed Alzheimer’s in three years.
The study results were patented in August and published in the last month’s edition of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, according to the health agency.
“The results of this study are useful in estimating the dementia prognosis of individuals with mild cognitive impairment without high-cost imaging, image preprocessing. [We] expect the model will be easy and simple to use in the clinical field,” the KCDC said.
The model is also estimated to improve dementia prevention and maintenance and save healthcare costs, the centers said.
The National Institute of Dementia says Korea had 685,739 dementia patients over the age of 65 last year. The institute estimates the number to increase to 840,000 by 2020 and hit 2.71 million in 2050.
While no cure exists, early dementia screening and management can cut healthcare expenses by 1.3 to 2.8 trillion won ($1.2 to $2.6 billion) a year, the KCDC said.
“We will improve the accuracy of dementia diagnosis by establishing a clinical research infrastructure and accelerating clinical application and practical use of early diagnosis technology,” the agency added.
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