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Link Between Dementia, Autoimmune Diseases

Update Date: Mar 03, 2017 09:20 AM EST

People with autoimmune disease and conditions have a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. A research team from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom set out to examine how autoimmune disease leads to an increased risk of a dementia admission later in life.

Medical News Today reports that through a 14-year study, there were more than 1.8 million admissions recorded in hospitals due to autoimmune diseases. This includes 300,000 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 1,000 people with Goodpasture's Syndrome, a rare condition that affects the lungs and kidneys. Although the exact number of dementia diagnosis were not always identified, the risk was still observed to be around 6% higher for Alzheimer's and 28 percent higher for vascular dementia.

The researchers believe that this high risk associated with autoimmune diseases and vascular dementia is due to the risk factors for the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases in general. The research also revealed that out of the 25 autoimmune conditions analyzed for 14 years, 18 of them showed significant associations with dementia.

This includes Addison's disease, Polyarteritis nodosa, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Multiple sclerosis posed a 97 percent increased risk of acquiring dementia among all the autoimmune diseases analyzed.

Telegraph UK reports that in Britain alone, ten million people with autoimmune diseases are at greater risk of developing dementia. Compared with people admitted in Britain hospitals for other causes, those with autoimmune diseases showed 20 percent more possibility of acquiring a form of dementia in their lifetime. People with coeliac were also recorded to have an 8 percent increase in the possibility of acquiring such mental health disease.

Further studies will be conducted for clinicians and epidemiologists to see how autoimmune diseases may elevate the risk of dementia. Results of this study also reveal evidence that shows how the immune system plays a very significant role in developing dementia. This also opens new opportunities in finding more effective treatments for such diseases.

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