Dementia could be detected via routinely collected data, new research shows


Improving dementia care through increased and timely diagnosis is an NHS priority, yet around half of those living with dementia live with the condition unaware. Now a new machine-learning model that scans routinely collected NHS data has shown promising signs of being able to predict undiagnosed dementia in primary care. Led by the University of Plymouth, the study collected Read-encoded data from 18 consenting GP surgeries across Devon, UK, for 26,483 patients aged over 65. The Read codes – a thesaurus of clinical terms used to summarise clinical and administrative data for UK GPs – were assessed on whether they may contribute to dementia risk, with factors included such as weight and blood pressure. These codes were used to train a machine-learning classification model to identify patients that may have underlying dementia.

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