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15-min test can detect signs of dementia

A 15-minute self-administered test conducted at home can indicate early signs of mental decline that might be the first glimmer of Alzheimer's.

US researchers who asked more than 1,000 people aged 50 and older to take the self-adminstered Sage test found that 28pc had cognitive impairment, a mild loss of mental functioning.

The results closely matched those from detailed diagnostic tests carried out by experts.

Dr Douglas Scharre, who helped develop the test at Ohio State University, said: "What we found was that this Sage self-administered test correlated very well with detailed cognitive testing.

"If we catch this cognitive change really early, then we can start potential treatments much earlier than without having this test."

PROBLEMS

The test can be taken at home and the results shared with physicians to help them spot early symptoms of dementia, said Dr Scharre, director of Ohio State University's division of cognitive neurology.

While the Sage test cannot diagnose patients' problems, it gives doctors a "baseline" of mental function so that progressive changes can be tracked over time.

"We can give them the test periodically and, the moment we notice any changes in their cognitive abilities, we can intervene much more rapidly," said Dr Scharre.

Research showed that the test can detect four out of five people with mild thinking and memory issues. All but around 5pc of those without problems will have normal Sage scores.

hnews@herald.ie


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