Intended for healthcare professionals


Survival after diagnosis of dementia in primary care

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 05 August 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3530
  1. Elizabeth England, NIHR clinical research fellow
  1. 1Department of Primary Care Clinical Sciences Building, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
  1. e.j.england{at}

    Is lower than in screened populations, so better education and training are needed

    Dementia syndromes are common, increasing in prevalence, and the largest cause of disability in industrialised societies, particularly disability that affects self care and the ability to carry out domestic tasks. Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that significantly reduces survival, but less is known about its prognosis than that of other life threatening illnesses.1 2 Delayed recognition of dementia is common in primary care, and the underlying reasons for this are poorly understood.

    A better understanding of the effects of dementia on life expectancy is important because it enables patients and carers to plan for the future and gain access to support services earlier.3 Patients and carers want to understand the illness and be given an early diagnosis so they can make informed decisions. Access to support services can promote independence, delay admission to an institution, and prevent the “crises” of care that can occur when formal support is lacking. In addition, identifying patients with early dementia in primary care is crucial to delivering current and future treatments.4

    In the linked cohort study (doi:10.1136/bmj.c3584), Rait and colleagues use the health improvement …

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