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Region to pioneer Alzheimer’s project

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By Fiona Reid
Region to pioneer Alzheimer’s project

HEALTH workers in Dumfries and Galloway will be among the first in the world to test new methods of detecting Alzheimer’s disease.

GPs, community health workers and psychologists from this region will join colleagues in Brazil, Japan, Jamaica and Mexico in using two new tests which could allow earlier detection and diagnosis.

Along with the Scottish Rugby Union’s Brain Health Clinic, NHS Dumfries and Galloway will be the first in Scotland to pioneer the new tests and local dementia consultant Wendy Chambers, above, yesterday described it as “a tremendously exciting opportunity”.

She explained the trials will include new cognitive assessment and blood test methods and added: “The two tests together could give us a much better chance of identifying Alzheimer’s early, which provides greater opportunities around management and treatment of the condition.

“This could slow down the progression of the disease, and reduce the impact on the person, their families and their community.

“Early detection will make it easier to support people to live well with dementia.”

The first new approach is an assessment of cognitive ability and verbal memory, delivered digitally on an iPad which allows for a much more detailed analysis of cognitive function.

Alvaro Pascual-Leone is chief medical officer at Linus Health in the US, which produces the test, and he said: “Early detection of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia, requires proactive engagement and more practical assessments that are well-suited to a broader array of clinical settings, especially primary care.

“The digital nature of our cognitive assessment solution makes early detection more feasible in these settings, helping patients gain new opportunities to take action earlier.”

Meanwhile, a new blood test is carried out which detects the presence or absence of a protein in the brain which is associated with the disease. This is the first widely accessible blood test that assists healthcare providers with Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The project is led by Brain Health Scotland, a Scottish Government programme, hosted by Alzheimer Scotland.

And it is being run as part of The Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative.

The project work in Dumfries and Galloway will contribute to global understanding of how prepared healthcare systems are to implement early detection of Alzheimer’s and what changes may be necessary.

This will help to ensure that future advances and innovations around Alzheimer’s can reach people more quickly.

Wendy Chambers added: “Slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s with early detection and treatment will mean that people can live independently for longer, reducing the demand on our health and social care staff.

“But, much more importantly, it will mean that people will be healthier for longer – they will have more time to do the things which matter to them in their lives.”

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