Research Says Hypothyroidism Can Increase Dementia Risk at 65

As the world gets more advanced, researchers can gather sufficient data to have a deeper understanding of each health condition. Those additional findings inform people of the possibility of acquiring a disease. Dementia is one of those medical complications that researchers are still gathering other data on — what increases dementia risk?

Awareness of the potential danger of becoming a dementia patient is essential. A recent study has shown that a 65-year-old person with a history of hypothyroidism is more likely to develop dementia.

Photo: Unsplash/Alex Blăjan

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland doesn’t release enough hormones to the bloodstream. It is also called underactive thyroid. When the body does not receive thyroid hormones, it can slow down a person’s metabolism, make them feel tired, gain weight, and be extra vulnerable in cold temperatures. Additionally, hypothyroidism can be linked to dementia. A study was published in an online journal called Neurology. Researchers from the University of Arizona conducted the study using the Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database.

Daniel R. Wieland and his colleagues at the university included 7,843 adults in their research. They are newly diagnosed dementia patients without a history of neurodegenerative disease between 2006 and 2013. Among the participants, people aged 65 with a history of hypothyroidism were also diagnosed with dementia. No one at 50 years old and below or 65 years old and above acquired the neurodegenerative disease.

Photo: Unsplash/Tim Kilby

“In some cases, thyroid disorders have been associated with dementia symptoms that can be reversible with treatment,” said Dr. Chien-Hsiang Weng, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. “While more studies are needed to confirm these findings, people should be aware of thyroid problems as a possible risk factor for dementia as well as of available therapies that could prevent or slow irreversible cognitive decline.”

Moreover, the researchers also analyzed the possible connection between hyperthyroidism with dementia. Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid disorder where the gland releases an unhealthy amount of hormone to the body. A total of 102 participants had hypothyroidism, and 133 had hyperthyroidism. According to researchers, hyperthyroidism is not a risk factor for dementia. The team observed participants who had a history of taking hypothyroidism medicine. Apparently, they are three times more prone to dementia than those who did not consume medication.

“One explanation for this could be that these people are more likely to experience greater symptoms from hypothyroidism where treatment was needed,” Weng said. The team’s discoveries are yet to be proven as they gather more information. Hypothyroidism is not a cause of dementia; rather, it only shows a link between the two conditions.

“We advocate that more inclusive biochemical and well-controlled prospective longitudinal studies should be conducted to elucidate these potential mechanisms and relationships to serve the clinical field better,” the authors stated in an interview.

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