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Life expectancy tool may improve quality of life for dementia patients

ANI | Updated: Sep 26, 2022 21:46 IST


San Francisco [US], September 26 (ANI): A mortality prediction model for dementia patients may aid clinicians in framing discussions with patients and families about end-of-life care options such as at-home care and nursing homes. Furthermore, the model may assist physicians in determining whether patients should continue with routine cancer screening or discontinue medications, such as insulin for Type 2 diabetes patients - interventions that may cause more harm than good.
Researchers led by UC San Francisco followed 4,267 participants with probable dementia who were not residents of nursing homes in their study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine on September 26, 2022, and found that 81% of them had died by the end of the follow-up period.
A prediction model was created based on a person's age, gender, BMI, chronic conditions, smoking status, and ability to walk several blocks and engage in vigorous activity. They also included the ability to perform daily living activities such as personal care, eating, and getting in and out of bed, as well as instrumental daily living activities such as meal preparation, grocery shopping, medication management, and money management. In approximately 75% of cases, the model correctly predicted who lived and who died over a 10-year period.
The participants, who were enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of adults over 50, had an average age of 82, 12% were Black, and 69% were female. A high accuracy algorithm determined their probable dementia diagnosis. The findings were validated in a separate group of people who took part in the National Health and Aging Trends Study.
Model May Prompt Conversations About Financial Resources, Treatment Preferences
According to the first author W. James Deardorff, MD, a geriatrician at UCSF and the San Francisco VA Health Care System, the prediction model can help guide discussions about what financial resources are required to support individuals with dementia.
"An estimate of an individual's prognosis can be an important factor in financial planning for families, especially as many people with dementia require increased support at home and are eventually admitted to nursing homes," he said, noting that previous studies have shown the average survival time from time of diagnosis to be between three and 12 years.

"Additionally, individuals with limited life expectancy may wish to focus on the quality of life and being comfortable, rather than trying to live as long as possible. This may lead them to forego certain interventions, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the event of a cardiac arrest. Information about an individual's prognosis can help inform conversations about certain medical treatment preferences," he said.
Among the factors linked with mortality are older age, male sex, body mass index below 18.5, former or current smoking status, chronic diseases, difficulties walking several blocks, and performing activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living.
Colonoscopies, Insulin May No Longer Make Sense
"An estimate of an individual's prognosis can be an important factor in financial planning for families, especially because many people with dementia require increased support at home and are eventually admitted to nursing homes," he said, noting that previous studies have shown the average survival time from time of diagnosis to be between three and 12 years.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes may be advised to reduce or discontinue insulin, according to senior author Sei Lee, MD, UCSF professor of geriatrics and senior scholar for the San Francisco VA Quality Scholars fellowship. "Tight glycemic control in younger patients reduces the risk of vision loss and kidney failure 10 years later." However, in older patients, these benefits may not be realised, and the risks of low sugars caused by too much insulin can be severe."
In addition to the mortality prediction model, the researchers created an individualised mortality risk calculator for dementia patients, which is available online at ePrognosis.
Other mortality calculators and risk-versus-benefit cancer screening calculators are available, as are videos to help physicians talk with patients about life expectancy and treatment goals. (ANI)

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