Astrophysics and AI may offer key to early dementia diagnosis

December 17, 2019

Crucial early diagnosis of dementia in general practice could improve thanks to a computer model designed in a collaboration between Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and astrophysicists at the University of Sussex.

Currently, only two-thirds of people with dementia in the UK receive a formal diagnosis, and many receive it late in the disease process, meaning that a large number are missing out on the care that could help them achieve a good quality of life.

The team, led by Dr Elizabeth Ford, Senior Lecturer in Primary Care Research at BSMS, used data from GP patient records to create a list of 70 indicators related to the onset of dementia and recorded in the five?years before diagnosis. Working with data scientists from astrophysics, they then tried several types of machine-learning models to identify patterns of clinical information in patient records before a dementia diagnosis. The best model was able to identify 70% of dementia cases before the GP, but also threw up a number of false positives.

Dr Ford said: "Patients appear to be exhibiting a wide range of indicators prior to being diagnosed with dementia. It can be really hard for GPs to connect all these indicators and make the link with dementia, but with a computer programme, we can potentially do that. Early diagnosis could make a significant difference to the care dementia patients then receive.

"These findings are exciting but they spark the need for discussion with GPs and patients about what place this kind of technology should have in the GP clinic. As technology develops, we need to have wider conversations on whether we are happy with computers working out our chance of having life-changing conditions like dementia."

Seb Oliver, Professor of Astrophysics in the School for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said: "It has been fantastic working on this project with Dr Ford and her team. It is always amazing to see how statistical methods such as AI and machine-learning can be used to extract useful information from data, whether that be images from space telescopes or GP patient records. Of course the statistics are only one part of the understanding and it is really exciting to work in new areas to try to understand the different challenges that those present."
-end-
This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support.

University of Sussex

Related Dementia Articles from Brightsurf:

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients
Strong sleeping pills known as 'Z-drugs' are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia, according to new research.

The long road to dementia
Alzheimer's disease develops over decades. It begins with a fatal chain reaction in which masses of misfolded beta-amyloid proteins are produced that in the end literally flood the brain.

Why people with dementia go missing
People with dementia are more likely to go missing in areas where road networks are dense, complicated and disordered - according to new research from the University of East Anglia.

PTSD may double risk of dementia
People who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are up to twice as likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a new study by UCL researchers, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Dementia education
School-based dementia education could deliver much needed empathy and understanding for older generations as new research from the University of South Australia shows it can significantly improve dementia knowledge and awareness among younger generations.

Building dementia friendly churches
A project to help church communities become more 'dementia friendly' has had a significant impact across the country.

A "feeling" for dementia?
A research team led by the DZNE concludes that personal perception can be an important indicator for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

New biomarker for dementia diagnosis
Medical researchers in the UK and Australia have identified a new marker which could support the search for novel preventative and therapeutic treatments for dementia.

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.

Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.

Read More: Dementia News and Dementia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.