Researchers have recognized a hyperlink suggesting that lithium may lower the chance of creating dementia, which impacts almost a million folks within the UK.
The researchers, from the College of Cambridge, carried out a retrospective evaluation of the well being information of almost 30,000 sufferers from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Basis Belief. The sufferers had been all around the age of fifty and accessed NHS psychological well being companies between 2005 and 2019.
The evaluation instructed that sufferers who acquired lithium had been much less prone to develop dementia than those that didn’t, though the general variety of sufferers who acquired lithium was small.
Their findings, reported within the journal PLoS Drugs, assist the chance that lithium may very well be a preventative remedy for dementia, and may very well be progressed to giant randomised managed trials.
Dementia is the main explanation for demise in aged Western populations, however no preventative remedies are presently obtainable: greater than 55 million folks worldwide have dementia, with Alzheimer’s illness the most typical type.
“The variety of folks with dementia continues to develop, which places enormous strain on healthcare methods,” stated Dr Shanquan Chen from Cambridge’s Division of Psychiatry, the paper’s first creator. “It has been estimated that delaying the onset of dementia by simply 5 years may scale back its prevalence and financial influence by as a lot as 40 p.c.”
Earlier research have proposed lithium as a possible remedy for many who have already been recognized with dementia or early cognitive impairment, however it’s unclear whether or not it may delay and even forestall the event of dementia altogether, as these research have been restricted in measurement.
Lithium is a temper stabiliser often prescribed for situations corresponding to bipolar affective dysfunction and melancholy. “Bipolar dysfunction and melancholy are thought-about to place folks at elevated danger of dementia, so we had to ensure to account for this in our evaluation,” stated Chen.
Chen and his colleagues analysed information from sufferers who accessed psychological well being companies from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Basis Belief between 2005 and 2019. Sufferers had been throughout 50 years of age, acquired not less than a one-year follow-up appointment, and had not been beforehand recognized with both gentle cognitive impairment or dementia.
Of the 29,618 sufferers within the examine cohort, 548 sufferers had been handled with lithium and 29,070 had not. Their imply age was slightly below 74 years, and roughly 40% of sufferers had been male.
For the group that had acquired lithium, 53, or 9.7%, had been recognized with dementia. For the group that had not acquired lithium, 3,244, or 11.2%, had been recognized with dementia.
After controlling for components corresponding to smoking, different drugs, and different bodily and psychological diseases, lithium use was related to a decrease danger of dementia, each for brief and long-term customers. Nevertheless, for the reason that total variety of sufferers receiving lithium was small and this was an observational examine, bigger scientific trials can be wanted to ascertain lithium as a possible remedy for dementia.
One other limitation of the examine was the variety of sufferers who had been recognized with bipolar dysfunction, which is often related to an elevated danger of dementia. “We anticipated to search out that sufferers with bipolar dysfunction had been extra prone to develop dementia, since that’s the most typical purpose to be prescribed lithium, however our evaluation instructed the alternative,” stated Chen. “It is too early to say for positive, nevertheless it’s attainable that lithium would possibly scale back the chance of dementia in folks with bipolar dysfunction.”
This paper helps others which have instructed lithium could be useful in dementia. Additional experimental drugs and scientific research are actually wanted to see if lithium actually is useful in these situations.
The analysis was supported partly by the UK Medical Analysis Council and the Nationwide Institute for Well being Analysis (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Analysis Centre.