New Scoring System Can Help Predict Dementia Risk

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A new scoring system has been developed that can be used to determine which seniors face the highest risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to dementia.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, led by Ronald Petersen, MD, PhD, director of the clinic’s Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, conducted a study of 1,449 randomly chosen people from a county in Minnesota between the ages of 70 and 89 who did not have memory problems. At the outset and every 15 months for an average of 4.8 years, participants were given memory and thinking tests.

During the study period, about one-third of participants — 401 — developed MCI.

Risk factors that could be gathered from medical records, such as education, medications, history of stroke or diabetes, and smoking were taken into account in the scoring system. Other factors that went into the score, such as depression and anxiety symptoms or slow gait, were gathered during a clinical interview.

Factors were assigned a score based on how much they would impact the risk of developing thinking problems, the researchers reported in the journal Neurology. For example, having a diagnosis of diabetes prior to turning 75 would increase the risk score by 14 points, but having 12 years or less of education would only raise the score by 2 points.

“This risk scale provides an inexpensive and easy way for doctors to identify people who should be referred to more advanced testing for memory issues or may be better candidates for clinical trials,” Petersen said in a statement.

New Scoring System Can Help Predict Dementia Risk
New Scoring System Can Help Predict Dementia Risk

Researchers at Mayo Clinic developed a new scoring system to help determine which elderly people may be at a higher risk of developing the memory and thinking problems that can lead to dementia. The study is published in the March 18, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 1,449 randomly selected people from Olmsted County, Minnesota between the ages of 70 and 89 who did not have memory and thinking problems. At the start of the study and at visits every 15 months for an average of 4.8 years, participants were given memory and thinking tests. During the study, 401 people — nearly a third — developed mild cognitive impairment.

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