A new study has shown that artificial intelligence is capable of predicting whether someone will get dementia in as little as two years. This technology is expected to reduce the number of false diagnoses, and allow doctors to catch dementia earlier.
The University of Exeter, UK used data taken from over 15,000 patients at the US memory clinic to create machine learning algorithms that can spot patterns. According to scientists, AI could detect dementia in the following two years by analysing this data with 92% accuracy.
Some 258 variables were analyzed to determine each patient’s dementia risk, but the machine learning algorithm was able to reach an accuracy level of 91% with just six of these variables.
Researchers also discovered that approximately 8% of dementia patients were misdiagnosed by the AI system, which detected 80% of the incorrect diagnoses.
Currently, doctors can use a number of decision-making aids to predict a patient’s risk of developing dementia on a longer timeline, such as the CAIDE Risk Score, which predicts the 20-year risk for dementia in middle-aged people; and the BDSI score, which identifies elderly patients at risk of dementia in the next six years. Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately predict when the condition will develop.
“This has the potential to reduce the guesswork in clinical practice and significantly improve the diagnostic pathway, helping families access the support they need as swiftly and as accurately as possible,” study author Prof. David Llewellyn said.
Many patients visit memory clinics with mild cognitive impairment. The condition then leads to dementia. They hope doctors will prioritize the patients that need further care by screening for those who are most at risk.
Dementia is a catch-all term for a range of progressive neurological disorders impacting memory, thinking, and behavior, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. There were over 55 million people worldwide living with dementia in 2020, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. As the number of older people grows, this figure is expected to increase by doubling, reaching 78 millions in 2030, and 139,000,000 in 2050.