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New Scoring System Predicts Dementia Risk in Older Patients With Diabetes

First system tailored for diabetics (August 20)

Researchers have developed a simple scoring system, based on a patient’s age, health issues, and education, that accurately predicts the risk of dementia in people aged over 60 years with type 2 diabetes. According to a new report published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, the research will allow doctors to closely monitor patients with diabetes at the highest risk of dementia, allowing early treatment to be given if needed.

Age, education, and six different diabetes-related health complications (acute metabolic event, microvascular disease, diabetic foot, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, and depression) were identified as the most important predictive factors, and the researchers incorporated them into a simple point scoring system.

The scores allow patients to be allocated to one of 14 categories, with the lowest score (–1) indicating the lowest risk of dementia, and the highest scores (12 to 19) indicating the highest risk. Patients with the highest score were 37 times more likely to develop dementia within 10 years than were those with the lowest score. Patients with higher scores also developed dementia more quickly than those with lower scores.

By testing the scoring system against an unrelated group of older patients with type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that it accurately predicts patients’ risk of developing dementia.

Although scoring systems to predict the risk of dementia have been developed for different populations, this is the first time that researchers have developed a scoring system to predict dementia specifically tailored to people with diabetes.

According to the authors, the risk score is likely to prove especially useful to practicing clinicians, as it does not rely on expensive, complicated brain imaging or cognitive testing, although the researchers plan to incorporate a second stage into the scoring system that includes some of these aspects, which may lead to improved accuracy.

Source: Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology; August 20, 2013.

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