Older people with hypothyroidism are at increased risk of dementia

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People aged 65 and over with a history of hypothyroidism were associated with an 81% increased risk of dementia, researchers reported in Neurology.

“In some cases, thyroid disorders have been associated with symptoms of dementia which may be reversible with treatment,” Chien-Hsiang Weng, MD, MPHclinical assistant professor at Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School and physician at Coastal Medical Hillside Family Medicine, said in a related press release.

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Weng and colleagues conducted a nationwide, population-based case-control study and used the Taiwanese National Health Insurance research database to identify 7,843 adults with newly diagnosed dementia (mean age, 74.9 years), who were matched with the same number of adults without dementia. (mean age, 74.5 years). Of 15,686 total participants, 102 had hypothyroidism and 133 had hyperthyroidism.

The researchers reported an increased risk of being diagnosed with dementia in patients aged 65 and older with a history of hypothyroidism (adjusted OR = 1.81; 95% CI, 1.14-2.87). This association was not observed in patients older than 50 years but younger than 65 years.

Additionally, the researchers noted that there was a three-fold increase in the risk of dementia in patients aged 65 and older who received medication for hypothyroidism (aOR = 3.17; 95% CI, 1 .04-9.69).

Weng and his colleagues found no association between hyperthyroidism and dementia.

“Although more studies are needed to confirm these findings, people should be aware of thyroid problems as a possible risk factor for dementia and of therapies that could prevent or slow irreversible cognitive decline,” Weng said.


American Academy of Neurology. Thyroid problems linked to increased risk of dementia. Published July 6, 2022. Accessed July 6, 2022.

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