Only 45% of Early Dementia Diagnosed

Dementia memory loss symptoms overlooked

(RxWiki News) Many doctors are not detecting the early signs of dementia, according to recent research. It can be difficult to identify people with dementia because primary care physicians have busy practices and might miss early symptoms.

Primary care physicians in the United Kingdom are often making false-positive and false-negative diagnoses of the condition, said Dr. Alex Mitchell, a consultant psychiatrist with the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and a researcher at the university. 

Overall, primary care physicians correctly identified 3 out of 5 patients as having memory problems. It was unclear if similar problems are happening in the United States.

"Talk to your doctor or therapist if you have dementia symptoms."

Researchers from the University of Leicester and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health in the United Kingdom and the Department of General Practice in Germany looked at past studies involving more than 15,000 people who were seen by a primary-care physician. Of those, 7,000 were screened for dementia, and many early signs were missed.

In the study, only 45 percent of people with early dementia were diagnosed. Also, patients with depression or hearing problems were more at risk of being misdiagnosed with dementia.

If the patient is living alone, there aren’t others to notice the symptoms, and the patient might not see those symptoms in him or herself, they said.

The article was published in the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

Review Date: 
June 24, 2011