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10-Year Dementia Risk Score for Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Aug 28, 2013

A new "Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score" could pave the way for selecting "high-risk patients for early intervention studies and for many applications of personalized medicine"… 

Patients with type 2 diabetes are generally at a higher risk for developing dementia when compared to individuals without the disease. However, among these diabetic patients, some are at a higher risk than others. A new risk score has been developed by researches at Kaiser Permanente and the University of Medical Centre Utrecht in order to determine the 10-year dementia risk for patients with type 2 diabetes.

The "Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score" was created and tested by researches by analyzing data from approximately 30,000 type 2 diabetic patients aged 60 and greater over a 10-year interval.

Among these patients, eight factors were associated with the progression of dementia including diabetic foot, microvascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Each of these factors was given a value to associate its risk for dementia; a higher value indicated a greater risk for dementia.

The researchers found that patients associated with the least risk for dementia based on the 20-point risk score, had a 5.3% chance of developing dementia over the next ten years, while those on the highest risk side had a 73% change of developing dementia. According to the authors of this study, those in the higher risk category were 37 times more likely to develop dementia than those in the lowest risk category.

The Diabetes-Specific Dementia Risk Score is the first among many to specifically focus on type 2 diabetes patients and concentrate on "diabetes-specific characteristics." Since the information needed to come up with this risk score can be easily retrieved through patient medical records, it requires less labor and does not need the use of expensive equipment unlike other risk scores that have been developed.

According to Rachel Whitmer, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, CA, who led the study, "Early detection of diabetes patients who are at increased future risk of dementia could help to develop and target preventive treatment," and this may be done by use of the new risk score. Furthermore, "Clinicians can use it to guide their decisions in terms of clinical attention to incipient cognitive impairment which makes people vulnerable to dangerous side-effects of diabetes treatment."

"Risk score for prediction of 10 year dementia risk in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a cohort study" published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endicronology, 20 August 2013