An investigation by Alzheimer's Research UK and MSD has examined public attitudes to early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's Disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Currently, it is diagnosed when symptoms appear but the disease begins damaging the brain years before this point. 

Research suggests the ability to pick up Alzheimer’s earlier could transform how and when it is treated.

Alzheimer's Research UK used focus groups and a survey of 2,106 UK adults to investigate public attitudes.

Its findings show a strong appetite among members of the public to find out if they would develop Alzheimer’s. 

However, most would want tests to be accurate and to give certainty about disease progression.

Key findings

  • 74% of UK adults would want to know they had Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear
  • At least 75% of people would be willing to undertake cognitive tests, brain imaging, blood tests and eye tests if they could help identify their risk of developing the disease
  • Only 49% of UK adults were aware Alzheimer's starts years before symptoms begin to show

The research also found, although people could see the benefit of early diagnosis, they were uncomfortable talking about Alzheimer's.

Recommendations

The report makes a number of recommendations in three key areas:

  • Improving communication with the public about Alzheimer’s, dementia, and diagnosis
  • Supporting earlier detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Preparing the NHS for future treatments, which may require changes in how and when a diagnosis is made

Read the full report here.

See also