People with dementia could be missing out on help and support in the early stages of the condition because of late diagnosis, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal today.
Scientists from the Medical Research Council analysed the health records of over 135,000 people aged 60 or over from more than 350 UK GP surgeries between 1990 and 2007.
The study found that survival rates were much lower for those diagnosed by their GP than those who are actively screened for dementia in research studies. It also found people with dementia were three times more likely to die in the first year after a GP diagnosis than people without dementia. Researchers claim this increased mortality rate could be the result of late diagnosis or diagnoses at a time of crisis.
Alzheimer's Society comment:
'This very large study throws further light on the abysmal standard of dementia diagnosis in this country. Up to two thirds of people with dementia never receive a diagnosis and as this research implies, many of those who do, only do so in the later stages.
'There are 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this number is expected to reach a million within 15 years. A timely diagnosis can enable people to access vital help and support and allow them to plan for the future. We must act now to improve awareness and dementia training for GPs and bring our appalling diagnosis rates up to the standards of the best performing countries.'
Acting Chief Executive