Introduction Possible dementia is usually identified in primary care by general practitioners (GPs) who refer to specialists for diagnosis. Only two-thirds of dementia cases are currently recorded in primary care, so increasing the proportion of cases diagnosed is a strategic priority for the UK and internationally. Variables in the primary care record may indicate risk of developing dementia, and could be combined in a predictive model to help find patients who are missing a diagnosis. We conducted a meta-analysis to identify clinical entities with potential for use in such a predictive model for dementia in primary care. Methods and findings We conducted a systematic search in PubMed, Web of Science and primary care database bibliographies. We included cohort or case-control studies which used routinely collected primary care data, to measure the association between any clinical entity and dementia. Meta-analyses were performed to pool odds ratios. A sensitivity analysis assessed the impact of non-independence of cases between studies. From a sift of 3836 papers, 20 studies, all European, were eligible for inclusion, comprising >1 million patients. 75 clinical entities were assessed as risk factors for all cause dementia, Alzheimer’s (AD) and Vascular dementia (VaD). Data included were unexpectedly heterogeneous, and assumptions were made about definitions of clinical entities and timing as these were not all well described. Meta-analysis showed that neuropsychiatric symptoms including depression, anxiety, and seizures, cognitive symptoms, and history of stroke, were positively associated with dementia. Cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, heart disease, dyslipidaemia and diabetes were positively associated with VaD and negatively with AD. Sensitivity analyses showed similar results. Conclusions These findings are of potential value in guiding feature selection for a risk prediction tool for dementia in primary care. Limitations include findings being UK-focussed. Further predictive entities ascertainable from primary care data, such as changes in consulting patterns, were absent from the literature and should also be explored in future studies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by Wellcome Trust ASTRODEM study: 202133/Z/16/Z (PI EF; employed on grant: PR). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. We thank the Wellcome Trust for funding this study (202133/Z/16/Z).
© 2018 Ford et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.