Thyroid problems linked to higher risk of dementia

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In a study from Brown University, scientists found older people with hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid, may be at increased risk of developing dementia.

The risk of developing dementia was even higher for people whose thyroid condition required thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones. This can slow metabolism. Symptoms include feeling tired, weight gain and sensitivity to cold.

In some cases, thyroid disorders have been associated with dementia symptoms that can be reversible with treatment.

For the study, researchers looked at the health records of 7,843 people newly diagnosed with dementia in Taiwan and compared them to the same number of people who did not have dementia. Their average age was 75.

Researchers looked to see who had a history of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism, which is also called overactive thyroid, is when the thyroid produces too much hormone.

This can increase metabolism. Symptoms include unintended weight loss, rapid or irregular heartbeat and nervousness or anxiety.

A total of 102 people had hypothyroidism and 133 had hyperthyroidism. The researchers found no link between hyperthyroidism and dementia.

Of the people with dementia, 68 people, or 0.9%, had hypothyroidism, compared to 34 of the people without dementia, or 0.4%.

The team found that people over age 65 with hypothyroidism were 80% more likely to develop dementia than people the same age who did not have thyroid problems.

For people younger than 65, having a history of hypothyroidism was not associated with an increased risk of dementia.

When researchers looked only at people who took medication for hypothyroidism, they found they were three times more likely to develop dementia than those who did not take medication.

Their explanation for this could be that these people are more likely to experience greater symptoms from hypothyroidism where treatment was needed.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and this therapy could boost recovery from stroke and dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about sleep loss that may increase dementia risk, and results showing this healthy diet may strongly prevent memory loss and dementia.

The study was conducted by Chien-Hsiang Weng et al and published in Neurology.

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