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Five-point test ‘boosts dementia diagnosis’

A simple five-point cognitive test done in primary care may increase new diagnoses of dementia two- to three-fold, finds a US study.

At a routine primary care visit, researchers offered 8,342 patients aged 70 or over, without a prior diagnosis of cognitive impairment, the ‘Mini-Cog' screen.

A quarter of those who agreed to be screened failed the test - scoring three or less out of five. Of these, 28% agreed to undergo a further evaluation and 93% were diagnosed with cognitive impairment and 75% with dementia.

Of those patients who failed the screen, but declined further investigation, 17% were subsequently diagnosed with cognitive impairment through standard care.

Overall cognitive impairment was diagnosed in 11% of those screened, compared to a rate of 4% in primary care clinics that didn't offer screening.

Study lead Dr John Riley McCarten, a neurologist at the University of Minnesota Medical School, USA, said: ‘Screening prompts them to share concerns about their cognitive status, and physicians should pay attention to and follow up on such concerns.'

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2012, published online 14 February


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