Dementia is a neurological disorder that has lately become increasingly common among the elderly. Memory and cognition deteriorate and inevitably become impaired in this neurological disorder. Did you know thyroid hormones are one of the factors that can be contemplated in the backstory of this neurological condition? Well, thyroid hormones are implicated in a lot of physiological processes in the body, one of which is neuromodulation. Thyroid disorders, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, and a recent study has found that the thyroid can have an impact on the nervous system and contribute to the development of dementia.
Is Thyroid Linked To Increased Risk of Dementia?
Recently, researchers from the US and Taiwan have discovered a connection between dementia risk and hypothyroidism in old age. Researchers investigated the link between thyroid disorders and dementia in 15,686 Taiwanese National Health Insurance Research Database participants.
7,843 of the people involved had a fresh dementia diagnosis, while the remaining 7,843 had no dementia diagnosis at the commencement of the experiment. The researchers optimized the findings and defined dementia risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
The results indicated that the individuals aged 65 and above with a previous record of hypothyroidism, which means their thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, had an 81% increased risk of developing dementia compared to those without thyroid issues.
Also, the people who had hypothyroidism and were on thyroid medication had the greatest link to an elevated risk of dementia.
Thyroid Dysfunction and Cognitive Impairment
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating various bodily functions, including metabolism, energy production, and brain development. Thyroid dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), can have significant impacts on overall health, including brain function. While there is some evidence suggesting a link between thyroid dysfunction and cognitive impairment, the association between thyroid conditions and dementia is not well-established. Here are some key points to consider:
- Hypothyroidism and Cognitive Impairment: Untreated or poorly managed hypothyroidism, characterized by insufficient thyroid hormone production, can lead to a range of symptoms, including cognitive impairment, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can mimic those seen in the early stages of dementia. However, treating hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement therapy typically alleviates these cognitive symptoms.
- Thyroid Hormones and Brain Health: Thyroid hormones play important roles in brain development and function. They are involved in the growth and maturation of neurons, myelination of nerve fibres, and the regulation of neurotransmitters. Imbalances in thyroid hormone levels, either too low or too high, may potentially affect cognitive function and contribute to cognitive decline over time.
- Thyroid Disorders and Increased Dementia Risk: Some studies have suggested an association between thyroid disorders and an increased risk of dementia, particularly in older adults. However, the findings are inconsistent, and further research is needed to establish a clear causal relationship. Other factors, such as cardiovascular disease, vascular risk factors, and autoimmune processes associated with thyroid disorders, may contribute to the observed association between thyroid dysfunction and dementia.
- Alzheimer’s Disease and Thyroid Function: There is ongoing research exploring the potential connection between thyroid dysfunction and Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Some studies have suggested that altered thyroid hormone levels may be associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is necessary to better understand the mechanisms and establish a definitive link.
Numerous health conditions have been linked to an increased risk of dementia in studies, but we still don’t know what’s causing these associations. This study used information from a large group of Taiwanese people and discovered that an underactive thyroid can elevate the risk of dementia by up to 81%. Nevertheless, further studies should investigate the reasons for this high correlation between the associated risk factors and the disease.
How Can You Prevent Dementia
There is no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but there are precautions you can take. Further research is required, but the following steps may be beneficial:
- Maintain Your Mental Activity: Mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzle-solving, and word games, as well as memory training, may delay the onset of dementia and reduce its effects.
- Stop Smoking: Some research suggests that smoking in your forties and fifties may raise your chance of dementia and blood vessel disease.
- Consume Vitamin D: According to some research, people with low vitamin D levels in their blood are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
- Manage Heart disease: Keep a check on high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.