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Hunt to learn from France on dementia diagnosis

More GPs in France spot the early signs of dementia than friends and family. Credit: PA Wire

Jeremy Hunt travelled to France to see how the country effectively diagnoses and treats dementia, before he announced a £90 million package to improve care in the UK.

ITV News' Political Correspondent Libby Wiener travelled with Jeremy Hunt as he met with the French Health Minister, Marisol Touraine, and dementia experts on a visit to a leading Brain and Spine Institute in Paris.

A report by Alzheimer's Disease International suggests that more GPs in France spot the early signs of dementia than friends and family, which is in stark contrast to the UK.

Read: Around 800,000 suffer from dementia in UK

Around 800,000 suffer from dementia in UK

Jeremy Hunt has announced a new range of measures to help dementia sufferers as he bids to make the UK a "global leader" in fighting the illness

Figures from the Alzheimer's Society revealed:

  • Around 800,000 people suffer from dementia in the UK
  • This figure is likely to soar to 1.7 million by 2050
  • One in three people over 65 will die with dementia
  • There are over 17,000 people under 65 with the illness
  • The charity estimate that the illness costs the UK over £23 billion a year, and this figure is likely to rise to £27 billion per annum by 2018
  • Unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the economy £8 billion a year

Read: 'Dementia strips someone of their character'

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Hunt wants to make UK 'global leader' in dementia fight

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says he is on a mission to make the UK a global leader in finding a cure for dementia, as he unveiled a range of measures to help those suffering from the illness.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new range of measures to help in the fight against dementi Credit: PA Wire

"Dementia can be a horrific and heartbreaking disease, but it is my mission as Health Secretary to make this country the best place in the world to get a dementia diagnosis, as well as a global leader in the fight to find a cure," Mr Hunt said.

"Today's package is about government, clinicians, business, society and investors coming together to raise our game on every front."

The Health Secretary said it was "totally unacceptable" to have variations in diagnosis rates, and welcomed NHS England's work to diagnose sufferers earlier.

Read: 'Dementia strips someone of their character'

New dementia care plans announced by Jeremy Hunt

New care measures for dementia sufferers will make the UK a world leader in fighting the disease, Jeremy Hunt has claimed.

A new package of measures, including faster diagnosis and increased research funding, have been unveiled. Credit: PA Wire

The Health Secretary has announced a new package of care, including faster diagnosis, increased research funding and greater help from businesses to support sufferers.

NHS England will invest £90 million in a bid to diagnose two-thirds of people with dementia by next March.

Leading British businesses, including Marks & Spencer, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy, will train over 190,000 staff to learn how to spot the signs of dementia and offer support.

Cooking meat may contribute to dementia risk

The chemicals produced when browning meat may contribute to the development of dementia, a study suggests.

Advanced glycation endproducts (Ages) are abundant in "browned" meat cooked at high temperatures, while barbecued and fried meat may also contain high levels of Ages.

A new study has found links between Advanced glycation endproducts and dementia. Credit: PA Wire

Scientists in the US found evidence that Ages may aid the development of dementia by suppressing a protective anti-ageing enzyme.

Researchers writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences fed mice a high-Ages diet and found that they accumulated harmful proteins in the brain and displayed signs of mental impairment.

Academics said the research was "compelling" but did not provide "definitive answers".

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Expert: 'Keep cholesterol down' to avoid Alzheimer's

Evidence is mounting that a healthy a diet and regular exercise could ward off Alzheimer's disease in later life, a leading health charity has said.

Dr Laura Phipps, from the British charity Alzheimer's Research UK, urged people to "keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check" if they were worried about dementia.

This study adds to previous research suggesting that a healthy lifestyle in midlife could have benefits for our cognitive health into older age.

Current evidence suggests the best way to keep our brain healthy is to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, not smoke, exercise regularly and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check.

Anyone who has concerns about their cholesterol levels should talk to their GP.

– Dr Laura Phipps

Effect of bad cholesterol in heart 'mirrored in brain'

Scientists trying to understand the link between cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease believe the effect cholesterol has on the heart may be mirrored in the brain.

Alzheimer's
'Unhealthy patterns' of cholesterol could promote Alzheimer's in the same way they contribute to heart disease. Credit: PA

A US study found harmful protein deposits in the brain called beta amyloid plaques were influenced by "good" and "bad" cholesterol.

Experts draw a sharp distinction between "good" cholesterol, or high density lipoprotein (HDL) and its evil twin - low density lipoprotein (LDL).

While high levels of LDL can lead to narrowed arteries and heart disease, HDL is protective.

Study leader professor Bruce Reed, from the University of California at Davis explained: "Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol could be directly causing the higher levels of amyloid known to contribute to Alzheimer's, in the same way that such patterns promote heart disease."

Read more: Regular exercise 'cuts risk of dementia', researchers claim

Scientists pinpoint Alzheimer's origins in the brain

Scientists have pinpointed a specific part of the brain where Alzheimer's begins and traced how the disease spreads.

High resolution brain scans of 96 healthy adults over the age of 65 revealed the first footprint of Alzheimer's in a dozen individuals who went on to experience symptoms.

Computer generated image showing Alzheimer's disease starting in the entorhinal cortex (yellow). Credit: Usman Khan/Columbia University Medical Center/PA

Reduced metabolic activity was seen in the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC), a small region linked to the hippocampus where long-term memories are stored.

The change, associated with declining memory, occurred at a time when all 12 volunteers were free of dementia and was not seen in the 84 participants who did not develop Alzheimer's. One region especially targeted was the parietal cortex, an area involved in various functions including navigation.

The new imaging method could also be used to assess potential new drug treatments at early stages of the disease, said the researchers.

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