There is a need to ensure the adequate support for both patients and carers

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Issue 86: 19 Oct 2021
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments in healthcare.
Journey through the diagnosis of dementia

September was World's Alzheimer's month. According to the WHO, more than 55 million people worldwide today are living with dementia, costing the world $1.3 trillion a year. This number is projected to rise by an alarming 40% to 78 million by 2030 and 139 million by 2050.

Diagnosis continues to be a major challenge. An estimated 75% or 41 million dementia cases go undiagnosed globally. Having an early and accurate diagnosis is key to treatment, care and support. However, those who seek a diagnosis often find the journey fraught with long wait times and stigma. Furthermore, current diagnostic tests are expensive, often inaccessible, and insufficient for early detection of the disease. 

Published by the Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), the World Alzheimer Report 2021 on dementia diagnosis reported these key findings and recommendations: 

  • Key barriers to diagnosis identified by people with dementia and carers included lack of access to trained clinicians (47%), fear of diagnosis (46%) and cost (34%);
  • Clinician stigma is still a major barrier to diagnosis, with 1 in 3 believing nothing can be done;
  • 77% of clinicians would be interested to use a new blood test to increase diagnostic precision of the cause of dementia. 
  • Healthcare systems globally should introduce annual brain health check-ups for the over 50s, facilitated by evolution in biomarkers science, with the opportunity to promote risk reduction strategies; 
  • Governments must prepare for a tsunami of demand for healthcare services as a result of global ageing populations, improved diagnostics, including biomarkers, and emerging pharmacological treatments. 

There is much that remains to be done: public awareness campaigns need to be developed; policies and programmes put in place to bring about change and expand accessibility; and appropriate support structures for carers endorsed. For only when there is greater health literacy about dementia can we ensure the best quality of care and support for dementia patients and their loved ones.
Healthcare in the Spotlight
A new study suggests that subtle changes in driving behaviour can be used as an indicator of possible dementia as early as 20 years before cognitive symptoms become apparent.
Figuring out how to optimise the use of the current generation of COVID vaccines for more durable protection is critical.
The air surveillance approach produced a “higher detection rate” of environmental virus RNA, compared to surface swab samples collected in the same area.
Millions of COVID-19 survivors are finding full recovery frustratingly elusive. The scale and persistence of these disabling effects mean the economic pain and drain on health resources could continue well after the contagion ends.
Increasing the supply of aquatic foods by 2030 could prevent almost 166 million cases of 'inadequate micronutrient intake' in malnourished children.
Tests in cell cultures and mice found that a newly identified compound can effectively disarm the virus, stopping it from replicating and preventing disease.
WHO spells out the transformational action needed in every sector, from energy, transport and nature, to food systems and finance, to protect people.
Climate change made the deadly floods that devastated parts of Germany and Belgium up to nine times more likely, according to an international study.
Source: Medical News Today

Of all the compounds in our body, cholesterol may be one of the most well-known. Despite it being a household name, there is much misinformation surrounding this fatty substance. Learn to separate what is fact from fiction from experts.

That's all for the week!
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