Dementia and autoimmune disease

From the summer 2017 issue of our Care and Cure magazine, find out about a new link between dementia and autoimmune disease.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health suggests that people admitted to hospital with an autoimmune disease are 20 per cent more likely to be admitted with dementia later on.

The researchers, based at the University of Oxford, looked at the data of more than 1.8 million people admitted to hospital with autoimmune disease from 1998 to 2012.

Of the 25 autoimmune diseases investigated – including coeliac disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis – 18 were associated with dementia in this way. Although the type of dementia was not always documented, in cases where it was known, the risk was stronger for vascular dementia than for Alzheimer’s.

Dr Clare Walton at the Society said, ‘The causes of dementia are complex and we are increasingly learning about links between dementia and other health conditions.

‘This research reinforces earlier evidence that shows the immune system plays an important role in developing dementia, which opens up new avenues to find effective treatments. Alzheimer’s Society is funding a study to test whether a rheumatoid arthritis treatment can also work for people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease.’

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