Inflammatory bowel disease associated with higher risk for dementia

Patients with inflammatory bowel disease were diagnosed with dementia an average of seven years earlier than matched controls in a Taiwanese study.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is linked to a higher risk for developing dementia, and at an earlier age, a study found.

Researchers in Taiwan looked at data for 1,742 people ages 45 years and older who had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease between 1998 and 2011 and registered in a compulsory national insurance program. They tracked participants' cognitive health for 16 years after their IBD diagnosis and compared the results with 17,420 people without IBD who were matched for sex, age, access to health care, income, and other underlying conditions. The study was published June 23 by Gut.

During the monitoring period, more patients with IBD developed dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, than those without (5.5% vs. 1.4%). The hazard ratio for dementia among patients with IBD was 2.54 (95% CI, 1.91 to 3.37) after adjustment for age, Charlson Comorbidity Index score, and all-cause clinical visits. This elevated risk was also seen for Alzheimer's disease (1.9% vs. 0.2%; P<0.001), vascular dementia (0.7% vs. 0.2%; P=0.001), and unspecified dementia (2.9% vs. 1.9%; P<0.001). Patients with IBD were diagnosed with dementia an average of seven years earlier than matched controls (age 76.24±8.22 years vs. age 83.45±6.32 years).

The researchers noted that they could not prove causation and that data on lifestyle factors were not available, among other limitations. They concluded that dementia risk may be higher in patients with IBD and called for more research on the topic. “Clinical implications include vigilance of dementia among elderly patients with IBD, support and education for patients with IBD and their caregivers, and early detection and timely medical care through a multidisciplinary approach,” they wrote.