Study: The Thyroid May Be Related to Dementia

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An investigation on the risk of dementia in older persons with hypothyroidism, often known as an underactive thyroid, was published in the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology on July 6. Additionally, those who have to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for their thyroid issue have an even higher risk of having dementia.

Hypothyroidism is characterised by insufficient thyroid hormone production by the thyroid gland, which slows metabolism. The same condition manifests as fatigue, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold. When the thyroid produces too much hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism, or hyperactive thyroid, occurs. This might speed up metabolism. Unintentional weight loss, an erratic or quick heartbeat, and jitteriness or anxiety are symptoms.

Although more research is required to confirm these findings, people should be aware of thyroid issues as a potential risk factor for dementia and therapies that could prevent or slow irreversible cognitive decline. The study’s author, Chien-Hsiang, MD, MPH, of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, stated that “In some cases, thyroid disorders have been associated with dementia symptoms that can be reversible with treatment.”

Researchers compared the health records of 7,843 adults in Taiwan who had just been diagnosed with dementia to those of the same number who were dementia-free. They were 75 on average. The history of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism was checked by researchers. Hypothyroidism affected 102 individuals, while hyperthyroidism affected 133. The researchers did not discover any connection between dementia and hyperthyroidism, though.

68 people, or 0.9 percent of those with dementia, had hypothyroidism, compared to 34 individuals, or 0.4 percent of those without dementia. Researchers showed that adults over the age of 65 with hypothyroidism were 80% more likely to develop dementia than those of the same age who did not have thyroid issues after adjusting for other factors that could impact the risk of dementia, such as sex, age, high blood pressure, and diabetes. A history of hypothyroidism was not linked to an increased incidence of dementia in those under 65.

Researchers discovered that those who solely took medicine for hypothyroidism had a threefold increased risk of dementia compared to those who did not. Weng suggested that one explanation for this would be that these persons are more prone to have more severe hypothyroidism symptoms for which treatment was required.

Weng emphasised that the observational study merely demonstrates a connection and does not establish hypothyroidism as a direct cause of dementia. One drawback of the study was that the authors were unable to provide participant data regarding the severity of their hypothyroidism.