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Dementia link for autoimmune patients

03 March 2017 09:17

Researchers have highlighted a link between dementia and autoimmune diseases

Researchers have highlighted a link between dementia and autoimmune diseases

People with multiple sclerosis could be more likely to develop dementia in later life, researchers have claimed.

Multiple sclerosis is just one autoimmune disease to be linked to dementia by researchers at the University of Oxford. Others include type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

People who suffer with such conditions can still travel abroad by arranging specialist medical travel insurance.

What is an autoimmune disease?

A type of illness in which the body's own immune system destroys healthy tissue (cells). MS, arthritis and Type 1 diabetes are among the most well-known.

MS affects more than 100,000 people in the UK.

Researchers at Oxford looked at 25 of these illnesses and found that 18 showed positive associations with dementia.

They used data on hospital admissions in England between 1998 and 2012 - a period which saw 1.8 million people admitted with an autoimmune disease. These people were found to be a fifth more likely to go onto suffer dementia.

Multiple sclerosis sufferers saw their risk almost double.

What the researchers say?

"Our findings should be considered as indicative rather than definitive," the authors caution.

But they added: "People admitted to hospital with an autoimmune disease, likely to be those at the severe end of the disease spectrum, do appear to have an elevated risk of dementia.

"This finding is consistent with autoimmune disease predisposing to vascular risk and vascular dementia.

"It is also, separately, consistent with the theory that Alzheimer's disease may have an autoimmune component."

The study was published in the Journal Of Epidemiology And Community Health.