Researchers at the University of Florida have designed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that can predict which patients will develop Alzheimer’s disease up to five years before receiving a diagnosis.
The system uses data from electronic health records to extract important information about a patient’s medical history and lifestyle habits and then uses that data to predict their likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Over 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
This neurodegenerative disease leads to progressive memory loss and declining cognitive function, ultimately robbing older adults of the skills they need to live independently.
Currently, there are no early screening tests for Alzheimer’s disease, which is typically only diagnosed after patients develop symptoms.
By the time this happens, the disease has already caused big brain damage.
Recent research suggests that changes in the brain leading to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia begin much earlier than previously thought—perhaps as early as middle age.
However, real-world clinical data, such as electronic health records, have the potential to be powerful screening tools for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Many known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, such as obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol, are routinely recorded in patients’ electronic health records.
In the study, the researchers reported that both of the AI models they tested scored in the “excellent” to “outstanding” range using standard performance measures that determine how well an AI model completes a given task.
However, the team notes that more testing is needed before these AI tools are available to doctors and their patients.
Despite the need for further testing, the study shows that it is feasible to use patient information in electronic health records to screen for Alzheimer’s disease.
To test their AI models, the study team used real-world patient data, scrubbed of patients’ identifying information, from some 16.8 million Floridians housed in the OneFlorida+ Data Trust repository.
They identified nearly 24,000 patients over age 40 who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia and used them as the “case” group.
Nearly 1.04 million patients over age 40 who were not diagnosed with dementia served as a control group.
If you care about Alzheimer’s, please read studies about mounting evidence that herpes virus is a cause of Alzheimer’s, and boosting the brain’s cleaning crew to mop up Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about Coconut oil may help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease and results showing that Strawberries could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by Jiang Bian et al and published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.
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