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OBJECTIVES: Electronic health records (EHR) might be a useful resource to study the risk factors and clinical care of people with dementia. We sought to determine the diagnostic validity of dementia captured in linked EHR. METHODS AND FINDINGS: A cohort of adults in linked primary care, hospital, disease registry and mortality records in England, [CALIBER (CArdiovascular disease research using LInked Bespoke studies and Electronic health Records)]. The proportion of individuals with dementia, Alzheimer's disease, vascular and rare dementia in each data source was determined. A comparison was made of symptoms and care between people with dementia and age-, sex- and general practice-matched controls, using conditional logistic regression. The lifetime risk and prevalence of dementia and mortality rates in people with and without dementia were estimated with random-effects Poisson models. There were 47,386 people with dementia: 12,633 with Alzheimer's disease, 9540 with vascular and 1539 with rare dementia. Seventy-four percent of cases had corroborating evidence of dementia. People with dementia were more likely to live in a deprived area (conditional OR 1.26;95%CI:1.20-1.31 most vs least deprived), have documented memory impairment (cOR = 11.97;95%CI:11.24-12.75), falls (cOR = 2.36;95%CI:2.31-2.41), depression (cOR = 2.03; 95%CI:1.98-2.09) or anxiety (cOR = 1.27; 95%CI:1.23-1.32). The lifetime risk of dementia at age 65 was 9.2% (95%CI:9.0%-9.4%), in men and 14.9% (95%CI:14.7%-15.1%) in women. The population prevalence of recorded dementia increased from 0.3% in 2000 to 0.7% in 2010. A higher mortality rate was observed in people with than without dementia (IRR = 1.56;95%CI:1.54-1.58). CONCLUSIONS: Most people with a record of dementia in linked UK EHR had some corroborating evidence for diagnosis. The estimated 10-year risk of dementia was higher than published population-based estimations. EHR are therefore a promising source of data for dementia research.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cohort Studies, Dementia, England, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Prognosis, Risk Factors, Sex Factors