PHONES will be able to spot Alzheimer’s disease up to 30 years before symptoms appear, scientists say.
A new check is 90 per cent accurate, compared to 50 per cent for current basic methods using pen and paper questions.
Flickr – Getty Phones will soon be able to spot Alzheimer’s disease up to 30 years before symptoms appear, scientists say
The test uses virtual-reality headsets to examine recall of directions — the first skill hit by Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related ailments.
Experts say smartphones and gadgets such as Fitbits could perform similar checks within five years.
Cambridge University’s Dr Dennis Chan — who developed the technique to examine 86 elderly patients — said: “We don’t want to carry on with Q&As that don’t really work.
‘YOU CAN’T HIDE DEMENTIA FROM THESE TESTS’
“This checks if behaviours change. Navigation is the first thing affected. Do you start taking different routes or doubling back?
“It’s an early red flag. You can’t hide dementia from these tests. Within five years we should be able to do them on smartphones.”
Some 850,000 Brits have dementia, set to hit a million in a decade.
There is no cure but some drugs curb symptoms. Dr Chan, whose research appears in journal Brain, added: “Wearable tech and apps will detect those at highest risk decades in advance.
“Doctors can intervene early with lifestyle advice to reduce the chance of developing the disease.
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“If drugs are identified that work, they can start treatment when they are most likely to help.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Dr Laura Phipps said: “We need ways to diagnose earlier and more accurately.”
Dr Clare Walton of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “We look forward to more research testing this.”
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