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Dementia often goes undiagnosed

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PORTLAND, Ore., Jul 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Many older patients showing signs of dementia are not being properly diagnosed by their primary care physicians, U.S. researchers said.

Scientists at the Oregon Health & Science University examined 553 patients ages 75 and older and divided them into three cognitive status groups -- normal, mildly impaired and moderately-to-severely impaired. They identified over 43 percent as cognitively impaired -- almost 30 percent mildly impaired and 14 percent moderately-to-severely impaired.

Researchers then studied medical charts of cognitively impaired patients for evidence they were examined, diagnosed or treated for dementia and for comments about adverse events in the past three years, such as medication-use errors, emergency-room visits and falls.

They found only 18 percent of mildly-impaired patients and 35 percent of moderately-to-severely impaired patients had been clinically evaluated for dementia. None of the mildly impaired patients and just 4 percent of the more severely impaired patients were offered dementia medication, the researchers said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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