-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Routine screening at primary
care clinics led to a two- to threefold increase in diagnoses of
brain-function impairments such as dementia in older veterans,
The new study included more than 8,000 U.S. veterans aged 70 and
older who agreed to undergo a brief screening during a routine
visit to a VA primary care clinic. None of the veterans showed
signs of memory loss.
Of the 2,081 (26 percent) who failed the screening, 580 (28
percent) agreed to further evaluation. Of those, 93 percent were
found to have brain-function impairment, including 75 percent with
This type of mental decline, known as "cognitive" impairment,
causes a reduction in skills such as memory, learning and thinking
beyond what's expected with normal aging.
The researchers noted that 118 patients who passed the initial
screening requested further evaluation, and 87 percent were found
to have some mental decline, including 70 percent with
The study is published in the February issue of the
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
"Our study demonstrates that proactive strategies such as routine screening are well-accepted and effective in diagnosing cognitive impairment, and that primary care providers value the diagnostic and management services involved," noted study leader Dr. J. Riley McCarten, of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and the University of Minnesota, in a journal news release.
"This project has implications for strategies that seek to improve care and contain costs in dementia," McCarten added.
The study findings contradict the current standard
recommendations by the American College of Physicians, U.S.
Preventive Services Task Force, and Alzheimer's Association. They
discourage routine screening for dementia on all older patients at
a certain age. Screening is only recommended if a patient sees a
doctor about some type of problem that could be due to
The Alzheimer's Association offers an overview of
mild cognitive impairment.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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