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Detected But Then?

It's getting easier to diagnose someone with dementia or Alzheimer's disease, but that may strain healthcare systems, the Economist writes.

It notes that most people suspected of having dementia have not actually been diagnosed — for a variety of reasons — but that some new diagnostic approaches may change that. For instance, the Economist reports that a blood test developed by McGill University researchers that measures p-tau217 protein levels appears to have high accuracy in predicting Alzheimer's disease. Another approach developed by University of Bath researchers uses electroencephalographic caps to measure patients' brainwaves, it adds. Meanwhile, improvements in AI and machine learning are helping cognitive testing such as from Cognetivity Neurosciences, it says.

But as the Economist notes, being able to better diagnose patients with dementia or Alzheimer's disease may then raise problems for healthcare systems, as there are few treatments for dementia or Alzheimer's disease and as it is unclear when mild impairment rises to the level of needing an intervention. Further, it adds that as the population ages, there will be even more people with dementia to take care of. "Health services buckling under the weight of the pandemic are ill-equipped to cope," it writes.