Early signs of Alzheimer's can show up in your driving
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A study led by researcher Sayed Bayat suggests that certain forms of driving may be related to the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. To test this theory, an experiment was conducted involving 139 people over 65 years of age in Washington, United States.
As the BBC reports, with medical tests (analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography) it was diagnosed that half of the participants were in an early phase of progressive disease and the other half were not. With this in mind, the driving analysis was started for one year, each car was fitted with a locating device based on the Global Positioning System to record the movements and times in detail.
The differences they identified were that preclinical Alzheimer's patients tended to log fewer miles, drive slower, travel less at night, limit routes, visit fewer destinations, and make abrupt changes. "The way people move in their everyday environment, from the places they visit to the way they drive, can tell us a lot about their health," said Sayed Bayat.
Thanks to the data collection, it was possible to design a first model that predicts the probability of having preclinical Alzheimer's only using age and driving data, it was 86% accurate. But adding the results of an apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype genetic test resulted in a 90% accuracy. It must always be remembered that only a small percentage of people end up developing Alzheimer's when it is due to genetic inheritance.
It must always be remembered that only a small percentage of people end up developing Alzheimer's when it is due to genetic inheritance / Image: Depositphotos.com
This new model could avoid expensive and invasive medical procedures to diagnose preclinical Alzheimer's, even though it takes longer than normal. The National Institute on Aging of the United States mentions that family members may notice that their loved one takes longer to complete an easy trip, that he or she drives more erratically or gets confused on the pedal.