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Expert warns of rise in early Alzheimer's in the Middle East

Lack of awareness has led to postponed diagnosis.

DUBAI // A neurologist has predicted an increase in early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Stefan Diez, of the American Hospital Dubai, said the lack of official studies in the Gulf meant doctors in the UAE have had to rely on studies carried out in Egypt.

"In Egypt, age-related diseases like hypertension, diabetes and strokes appear 10 years earlier than in Europe," Dr Diez said.

He said Alzheimer's occurred about the same time of life as those vascular-related diseases, so it could be assumed the debilitating condition would also be more prevalent at an earlier age.

Dr Diez sees an average of three Alzheimer's patients at his clinic every week but he said the actual number of Emiratis showing signs of the disease is much higher.

"In the hospital, they are more frequent but they are admitted for different reasons," he said. "They suffer from Alzheimer's but this is not the reason why they are here."

Dr Diez estimated the number of those with Alzheimer's who are admitted to hospital for other ailments is about 35 a week.

He said lack of awareness of the disease among members of the public had led to some cases going undiagnosed for as long as 10 years.

zalhassani@thenational.ae

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