Higher Risk for Dementia in Older Adults who are on Dialysis


According to a recently published study, dialysis patients have a higher risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease included. There seems to be a significant difference between those who suffer from kidney disease and healthy people when it comes to the possibility of developing this type of disease.

What does the new study suggest

According to the researchers, there should be an emphasis on the monitoring of cognitive decline amongst older patients who are in need of blood-filtering dialysis. In the opinion of Mara McAdams-DeMarco, the lead author of the study, the occurrence of dementia in this type of patients is neglected.

Based on what was found through this new research, it appears that kidney disease increases the risk of developing cognitive decline and dementia in elderly people, who are already at a big risk due to their age. There seems to be a strong connection between the reduction of the kidney function and the decline of cognitive functions, like attention and working memory. The exact cause of this is not known yet, although researchers believe that it could be connected to poor blood flow in the brain.

Who participated in this research

The researchers analyzed 356,668 Medicare patients older than 66 and who started dialysis because they had end-stage renal disease. The data was taken from a national kidney disease registry between 2001 and 2013. What was found was that female patient had a 4.6% risk of developing dementia in a year from the initiation of the dialysis, a 16% risk within 5 years and a 22% risk within 10 years. For male patients the numbers were a little bit lower, with risks of 3.7%, 13% and 19% respectively.

Also, it seems that Alzheimer’s disease was a notable part of these dementia diagnoses. There was a 0.6% risk of developing this condition for women and 0.4% risk for men. The conclusion of the study was that the risk amongst dialysis patients was significantly higher than what was expected in this particular age group. The research was funded by The National Institutes of Health.


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