According to a new study published on March 1 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, individuals who are suffering from autoimmune diseases are more susceptible to develop some form of dementia later in life. Health experts describe autoimmune disorders as health issues that make a person’s immune system to turn against the body.
For their research, the British scientists gathered information from approximately 1.8 former patients that have been admitted to the hospital between 1998 and 2012 suffering from various autoimmune disorders. Looking at the data, the researchers observed that out of the 25 illnesses of the immune system they were most interested in, 18, including multiple sclerosis, lupus, and psoriasis, were strongly linked to higher rates of dementia, revealed University of Oxford’s professor of public health and co-author of the study, Dr. Michael Goldacre.
Still, Dr. Goldacre and his team stressed the study was mainly observational and did not establish cause-and-effect. Hence, the researchers went on to say that based on their observations, multiple sclerosis patients were twice as likely to develop some form of dementia later in life, because of their autoimmune disease. Furthermore, patients admitted in the past for psoriasis had a 29 percent chance of landing into medical care for dementia during their lifetime. Lupus patients also had a 46 percent increased risk of dementia. Ranking at the bottom were rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease patients with a 13 and 10 percent increased risk of dementia respectively.
At the moment, scientists aren’t exactly sure what makes individuals suffering from autoimmune disorders more susceptible to dementia. However, they believe that autoimmune effects, chronic inflammation, or maybe both, have a role in the patient’s susceptibility to dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease, said Dr. Goldacre.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that individuals suffering from autoimmune disorders were, overall, 20 percent more likely to be re-admitted to the hospital with dementia later in life. Furthermore, breaking down the findings by type of dementia, the scientists noticed that autoimmune disorders increased the risk of Alzheimer’s by six percent. Also, patients with illness of the immune system were 28 percent more susceptible to vascular dementia, researchers noted. As a result, sufferers could experience a major decline in their thought process, because of reduced blood flow to the brain.
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