Fibromyalgia patients may be at higher risk for dementia, concludes a nationwide study performed in Taiwan.
Researchers analyzed 41,612 patients with newly diagnosed fibromyalgia — all 50 years or older — from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan who were diagnosed in 2000 and followed them for 10 years. They also included 124,836 healthy controls.
After 10 years, 1,704 of the fibromyalgia patients (21.23 per 1,000 person-years) developed dementia, compared to 4,419 of the controls (18.94 per 1,000 person-years).
They observed that out of 41,612 fibromyalgia patients, 1,704 developed dementia (21.23 per 1,000 person-years) compared to 4,419 from 124,836 controls (18.94 per 1,000 person-years).
The risk for developing dementia was significantly higher for fibromyalgia patients compared to healthy controls, as shown by a hazard ratio of 2.29 before adjusting for several parameters, including age, sex, comorbidities, geographical area of residence, urbanization level of residence and monthly income. The risk remained significantly higher even after adjusting for each of these factors.
“Patients with several comorbid disorders, for example, epilepsy, Parkinson disease, stroke, traumatic brain injury, liver diseases, depression and psychotic illness, tended to have a higher risk of developing dementia before and after adjustments,” researchers wrote.
This suggests potential unknown common mechanisms between fibromyalgia and mental disorders that increase the risk of dementia.
Therapy for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, including statins — a group of medications that reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol, in the blood — had no effect on patients’ risk for developing dementia.
The subtypes of dementia affecting more fibromyalgia patients were that of Alzheimer’s dementia, nonvascular and vascular dementia.
Patients with fibromyalgia had “a 3.35-fold increased risk of developing Alzheimer dementia, a 3.14- fold increased risk of developing nonvascular dementia and a 2.72-fold increased risk of developing vascular dementia compared to the control group,” researcher saids.
Overall, the results suggest that fibromyalgia patients carry a higher risk for dementia compared to healthy controls. However, said researchers, “this study was conducted using from observational data and was not able to control all dementia risk factors.”