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News Navigator: How does the Japanese-developed dementia scale test work?

This May 2018 file photo shows Kazuo Hasegawa. (Mainichi)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the "Hasegawa Dementia Scale," a simple test for identifying the condition.

    Question: What is the Hasegawa Dementia Scale test?

    Answer: The Hasegawa Dementia Scale was the world's first simple test for dementia. Kazuo Hasegawa, who recently passed away, developed it in 1974 while a professor at St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Kanagawa Prefecture. Its nine questions are answered verbally, and it is widely used mainly in Japan.

    Q: What kind of questions are they?

    A: The subject is asked their age, the date, and their current location. They are also asked to remember simple words like "cherry blossom" and "cat." Some questions require them to do easy subtraction, and to name as many vegetables as they can. The maximum score is 30 points. The higher the score, the better cognitive function is. Individuals scoring 20 or lower are suspected to have dementia.

    Q: Is it that easy to tell if someone has dementia?

    A: A low score does not always indicate dementia. The results are influenced by the subject's mental and physical state. Factors such as nervousness, anxiety and concentration at the time of the test may alter results. Specialists need to take other symptoms into consideration when deciding if a person has dementia.

    Q: There's also new dementia medication, right?

    A: The medication is Aducanumab (marketed as Aduhelm), which was developed by Japanese pharmaceutical giant Eisai Co. and others. The U.S. approved it in June, and we might know by the end of the year if it will be approved in Japan. But some experts are cautious about its efficacy. In November, a committee of the EU's European Medicines Agency took a negative view of its approval. Developments in Europe could affect Japan's review process.

    (Japanese original by Yuki Ogawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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