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Dementia diagnosis 'should be based on several tests'

Dementia diagnosis 'should be based on several tests'
10th July 2009

Diagnosing dementia or Alzheimer's disease cannot be done on a singular test and must consider different information, researchers say.

A report by the American Psychological Association suggests that things such as medical history and brain imaging must be used, as most cognitive tests used to decide whether someone has Alzheimer's or vascular dementia are not very helpful when used alone.

It is important to tell the two conditions apart so doctors can treat them effectively and patients and families can understand the situation better.

Just two of 118 tests studied by researchers from the University of Adelaide can adequately differentiate between the two conditions, highlighting the need for a range of examinations before a diagnosis is given.

"The combined picture is what's important, so we need to look at how we can improve diagnosis by combining different measures," said researcher Jane Mathias.

Research from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet this week suggested that middle-aged people who live alone have twice the risk of developing dementia.

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