These 10 warning signs point to Alzheimer’s disease

New dementia test enables diagnosis in 15 minutes

A phone call lasting only 15 minutes is enough to reliably distinguish between mentally healthy people and patients with mild cognitive impairment, and to distinguish between mild forms of dementia and manifest Alzheimer’s disease. This follows from a comparative study from India.

Follow-up examinations are particularly important in dementia

Such ongoing check-ups are particularly important in the case of neurological deficits – regardless of whether they are mild forms of cognitive impairment or outright Alzheimer’s disease. Experts already have at their disposal a wide range of testing devices, with the help of which not only different forms of the disease can be distinguished, but also the progression of the disease can be reliably determined. However, such tests are expensive and can easily overwhelm health systems, especially in populated and less developed areas of the world.

Telephone conversation test

To expand the range of such assessment tools, Indian experts have developed a new type of test that can be administered even during a short phone call. The so-called FACT test (FACT = Fifteen-Minute Telephone Cognition Assessment) it consists of 27 items, which can be used to determine the attention, orientation, memory performance, language skills and ability to take action of the examined persons. “Our goal was to see if we could also determine the presence of dementia in just 15 minutes in people who are unable to come to the hospital themselves,” explains study author Dr. Ratnavalli Ellajosyula of Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.

To determine whether FACT is as reliable as established testing procedures, Indian researchers tested the questionnaire under study conditions. For this purpose, 22 patients with mild cognitive impairment, 20 others with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and 23 healthy participants who were matched for age and educational attainment were interviewed by telephone. Participating patients underwent an established testing procedure (Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination, ACE III) at the hospital one week in advance.

FACT advances Alzheimer’s research

The presented results make the developers optimistic: “We were able to demonstrate that FACT is an effective tool comparable to ACE III for identifying mild cognitive impairment and for monitoring patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Ellajosyula. “This opens up new possibilities for everyday clinical practice and research in early intervention and monitoring of progressive cognitive decline.”

The researchers anticipate that FACT could be used as a screening tool in epidemiological studies in the future. “This could avoid the problem of people not cooperating or not being found during face-to-face interviews. In India, mobile phones are widespread in all sections of the population,” says Dr. Ellajosyula. “FACT can also be used in a variety of ways: to diagnose mild cognitive impairment, to monitor whether it progresses to Alzheimer’s disease, to measure disease progression, and even to evaluate patients’ response to medication, for example in a study. Further studies are needed and we hope the test will be used in other countries, especially in resource-poor regions.”

A phone call lasting only 15 minutes is enough to reliably distinguish between mentally healthy people and patients with mild cognitive impairment, and to distinguish between mild forms of dementia and manifest Alzheimer’s disease. This follows from a comparative study from India.

Follow-up examinations are particularly important in dementia

Such ongoing check-ups are particularly important in the case of neurological deficits – regardless of whether they are mild forms of cognitive impairment or outright Alzheimer’s disease. Experts already have at their disposal a wide range of testing devices, with the help of which not only different forms of the disease can be distinguished, but also the progression of the disease can be reliably determined. However, such tests are expensive and can easily overwhelm health systems, especially in populated and less developed areas of the world.

Telephone conversation test

To expand the range of such assessment tools, Indian experts have developed a new type of test that can be administered even during a short phone call. The so-called FACT test (FACT = Fifteen-Minute Telephone Cognition Assessment) it consists of 27 items, which can be used to determine the attention, orientation, memory performance, language skills and ability to take action of the examined persons. “Our goal was to see if we could also determine the presence of dementia in just 15 minutes in people who are unable to come to the hospital themselves,” explains study author Dr. Ratnavalli Ellajosyula of Manipal Hospital, Bangalore.

To determine whether FACT is as reliable as established testing procedures, Indian researchers tested the questionnaire under study conditions. For this purpose, 22 patients with mild cognitive impairment, 20 others with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, and 23 healthy participants who were matched for age and educational attainment were interviewed by telephone. Participating patients underwent an established testing procedure (Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination, ACE III) at the hospital one week in advance.

FACT advances Alzheimer’s research

The presented results make the developers optimistic: “We were able to demonstrate that FACT is an effective tool comparable to ACE III for identifying mild cognitive impairment and for monitoring patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Ellajosyula. “This opens up new possibilities for everyday clinical practice and research in early intervention and monitoring of progressive cognitive decline.”

The researchers anticipate that FACT could be used as a screening tool in epidemiological studies in the future. “This could avoid the problem of people not cooperating or not being found during face-to-face interviews. In India, mobile phones are widespread in all sections of the population,” says Dr. Ellajosyula. “FACT can also be used in a variety of ways: to diagnose mild cognitive impairment, to monitor whether it progresses to Alzheimer’s disease, to measure disease progression, and even to evaluate patients’ response to medication, for example in a study. Further studies are needed and we hope the test will be used in other countries, especially in resource-poor regions.”

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