Ill­ness of­ten mis­di­ag­nosed in el­derly


Only one in five de­men­tia pa­tients in­Chi­naare cor­rectly di­ag­nosed, ac­cord­ing to theChi­naAs­so­ci­a­tion for Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

“China is heav­ily af­fected by Alzheimer’s dis­ease, as the pop­u­la­tion is ag­ing,” said Wang Lun­ing, chair­woman of the as­so­ci­a­tion. “Many peo­ple, in­clud­ing some doc­tors, have a false per­cep­tion about the dis­ease, and this is a ma­jor rea­son why di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment rates of Alzheimer’s dis­ease is very low.”

Zhang Zhenxin, a pro­fes­sor spe­cial­iz­ing in de­men­tia at Pek­ing Union Med­i­cal Col­lege Hos­pi­tal, said many peo­ple in China have mis­con­cep­tions about de­men­tia and be­lieve it is a nat­u­ral re­sult of ag­ing.

Many pa­tients are sent by their fam­ily mem­bers to hos­pi­tal for di­ag­no­sis only af­ter the dis­ease has be­come se­ri­ous, she said, adding that in­cor­rect di­ag­noses by doc­tors of­ten de­lay ef­fec­tive treat­ment.

“The in­ci­dence of de­men­tia is closely re­lated with age,” said Zhang Shouzi, a psy­chi­atric doc­tor at Bei­jing Geri­atric Hos­pi­tal. “In most peo­ple who de­velop de­men­tia in China, the symp­toms be­gin to show af­ter age 60, and up to 40 per­cent of peo­ple who reach 85 years old are at risk of de­vel­op­ing de­men­tia.”

Cur­rently, there is no cure for de­men­tia and al­most all pa­tients with the con­di­tion even­tu­ally lose the abil­ity to care for them­selves. How­ever, early di­ag­no­sis and proper med­i­ca­tion can keep the dis­ease un­der con­trol and de­lay its ef­fects, Zhang Shouzi said.

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