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World Alzheimer's Report 2011: The benefits of early diagnosis and intervention
Date:9/12/2011

t been diagnosed and hence cannot benefit from treatment, information and care. In high-income countries, only 20-50% of dementia cases are recognized and documented in primary care. In low- and middle-income countries, this proportion could be as low as 10%.

  • Failure to diagnose often results from the false belief that dementia is a normal part of aging, and that nothing can be done to help. On the contrary, the new report finds that interventions can make a difference, even in the early stages of the illness.

  • Drugs and psychological interventions for people with early-stage dementia can improve cognition, independence, and quality of life. Support and counselling for caregivers can improve mood, reduce strain and delay institutionalization of people with dementia.

  • Governments, concerned about the rising costs of long-term care linked to dementia, should spend now to save later. Based on a review of economic analyses, the report estimates that earlier diagnosis could yield net savings of over US$10,000 per patient in high-income countries.

    'Over the past year, the research team has reviewed thousands of scientific studies detailing the impact of early diagnosis and treatment, and we have found evidence to suggest real benefits for patients and caregivers,' said Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of ADI.

    'Earlier diagnosis can also transform the design and execution of clinical trials to test new treatments. But first we need to ensure that people have access to the effective interventions that are already proven and available, which means that health systems need to be prepared, trained and skilled to provide timely and accurate diagnoses, communicated sensitively, with appropriate support.'

    To that end, ADI recommends that every country have a national Alzheimer's/dementia strategy that promotes early diagnosis and intervention. More specifically, governments must:

    • Promote
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    Contact: Louise Pratt
    louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk
    44-207-848-5378
    King's College London
    Source:Eurekalert

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