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Approved Research

Predicting risk of dementia in the context of disease related comorbidity: including cardiovascular disease, depression and stroke

Principal Investigator: Professor Blossom Stephan
Approved Research ID: 90722
Approval date: July 14th 2022

Lay summary

Background - Dementia is a major public health concern globally. Poor health, including a history of cardiovascular disease, stroke or later-life depression, have been linked to an increased risk of dementia. Yet not everyone with poor health develops dementia and we don't yet have a method to separate people into different risk groups (e.g. high, medium, and low dementia risk groups).

Aims -Therefore, the aim is to use advanced analytical methods to develop, for the first time, new approaches for identifying those individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease, stroke or depression who are at highest risk of developing dementia and complications related to dementia. Being able to identify individuals at high risk of dementia is important as it could (1) lead to early identification to improve care provided; (2) allow clinicians to better tailor treatment to individual patients to reduce risk; (3) help identify new strategies ("interventions") for reducing risk that can be tested in novel research projects; and, (4) help patients, their families, and clinicians better plan care for those who develop dementia.

Scientific Rationale - Using data from the population database, UK Biobank, and other resources, we will use both traditional and more advanced (e.g., Artificial intelligence and machine learning) methods to assess the likely complex pattern of associations between characteristics of the patient (e.g. age, sex, health, lifestyle and genetics) and dementia risk, in people with cardiovascular disease (e.g. coronary heart disease), stroke or depression. This information will help us build and test the dementia risk prediction models. We will answer questions like (1) what are the most important factors driving risk of dementia in different groups of people; and, (2) what is the best combination of factors for predicting who is at highest risk of future dementia?

Project Duration - The project is 36 months long.

Public Health Impact - With no cure available, the current strategy for dementia is to try and prevent, or delay, its onset in people at higher risk; and to diagnose as early as possible to allow access to support. The results are essential to informing treatment and management pathways according to dementia risk status. They will also help to target existing treatments more efficiently in those at highest risk of dementia.