Dementia is now “our greatest medical challenge”
It has been announced today by the Office of National Statistics that dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK. Last year alone more than 61,000 people died of dementia and this figure is set to rise along with the ageing population. Currently, there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK- 40,000 of which are under the age of 65. This number is expected to reach over 1 million by 2025.
The majority of the dementia deaths were among women – 41,283 deaths in 2015 compared to 20,403 dementia deaths in men. For men it seems the leading cause of death is related to heart disease.
Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.
“Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”
Dementia describes the different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed. Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting 17% of those diagnosed and mixed dementia affecting 10%.
The most common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech. However it is important to spot the early warning signs. These include finding it hard to follow conversations or programs on TV, forgetting names of friends or everyday objects and feeling confused even in a familiar environment.
Here at Randox we recognise the importance diagnosing dementia early and we worked with the Medical University of Vienna to develop the Randox ApoE4 Biochip Array which can identify the risk of developing Alzheimer’s within three hours. When we presented it earlier this year, it won the prestigious NACB/ AACC Distinguished Abstract Award.
The Biochip analyses Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), a gene which is recognised as one of the most significant genetic risk factors for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. There are three versions of the ApoE gene: E2, E3 and E4. The E4 version increases a person’s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, though it may also be associated with an earlier onset of memory loss. Everyone carries two copies of the ApoE gene but 25% of the population carry one copy of the ApoE4. Inheriting two copies of the E4 variant increases a person’s disease risk by 10 times or more.
The Biochip was developed at our state of the art site in Dungloe, ‘Teoranta’. R&D scientists Emma Harte said, “This type of testing is important in our quest to understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s, and empower patients to understand risks, consider medication and even make early lifestyle changes.
“Pairing this test with medical and family history for risk of Alzheimer’s disease has the real potential to advance personalised medicine. This fast, accurate testing will allow doctors and patients to make more informed choices earlier to potentially slow the possible progress of Alzheimer’s.”
If you would like to find out more information about our Alzheimer’s test contact us at randoxPR@randox.com