A new Danish study provides a method to identify people at high risk of developing dementia within a 10-year frame. Experts believe detecting high-risk individuals is critical as early targeted prevention may delay the onset of dementia or prevent the disorder.
Researchers were able to determine a person’s 10-year absolute risk estimate for dementia based on age, sex and a common variation in the APOE gene. Normally, the apolipoprotein gene (APOE) and protein are associated with metabolizing cholesterol and clearing β-amyloid protein from the brain. Defects in this gene lead to build-up of the protein among individuals with Alzheimer disease.
The new findings are important as it was recently estimated that one-third of dementia can most likely be prevented. The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“According to the Lancet Commission, early intervention for hypertension, smoking, diabetes, obesity, depression and hearing loss may slow or prevent disease development. If those individuals at highest risk can be identified, a targeted prevention with risk-factor reduction can be initiated early before disease has developed, thus delaying onset of dementia or preventing it,” says Ruth Frikke-Schmidt,a professor at the University of Copenhagen.
The study looked at data on 104 537 people in Copenhagen, Denmark, and linked it to diagnoses of dementia.
Researchers found that a combination of age, sex and a common variation in the APOE gene could identify high-risk groups, with a 7 percent risk for women and 6 percent risk for men in their 60s; a 16 percent and 12 percent risk, respectively, for people in their 70s; and a 24 percent and 19 percent risk, respectively, for those aged 80 years and older.
However, a limitation of the study is that it included only people of white European background, thereby limiting generalizability.
Nevertheless, the ability to determine 10-year risk estimates of dementia by age, sex and common variation in the APOE gene has the potential to identify high-risk individuals for early targeted preventive interventions,” the authors conclude.
Source: Canadian Medical Association