THURSDAY, July 14, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with an increased risk for dementia among older adults, according to a study published online July 13 in Neurology.

Ying Shang, Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and colleagues examined the association between NAFLD and dementia in a population-based matched cohort study involving Swedish patients aged 65 years and older with NAFLD between 1987 and 2016. Patients were matched based on age, sex, and municipality at the year of diagnosis with up to 10 reference individuals from the general population. Data were included for 2,898 patients with NAFLD and 28,357 matched controls.

The researchers found that 5.0 percent of patients with NAFLD and 4.6 percent of matched individuals were diagnosed with dementia during a median follow-up of 5.5 years. Patients with NAFLD had higher rates of dementia and vascular dementia compared with matched controls (adjusted hazard ratios, 1.38 [95 percent confidence interval, 1.10 to 1.72] and 1.44 [95 percent confidence interval, 0.96 to 2.23; P = 0.07], respectively). A greater risk for dementia was conferred by comorbid NAFLD and either heart disease (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.50; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.08 to 2.50) or stroke (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.60; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.95 to 3.47).

“These results highlight the possibility that targeted treatment of this form of liver disease and co-occurring cardiovascular disease may reduce the risk of dementia,” Shang said in a statement.

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