Lithium against DEMENTIA?

Although dementia today affects more than 55 million people in the world, it is the leading cause of death in elderly Western populations, to date there is no treatment, neither curative nor preventive, and that its prevalence it will only increase with aging populations. , any avenue should be sought to reduce this public health burden. “It is estimated that delaying the onset of dementia by as little as 5 years could reduce its prevalence and economic impact by 40%,” adds lead author Dr Shanquan Chen, from the Cambridge Department of Psychiatry.

Previous studies have proposed lithium as a possible treatment for patients previously diagnosed with dementia or early cognitive decline, but whether lithium can delay or even prevent the development of dementia is unknown. Lithium is a mood stabilizer usually prescribed for conditions like bipolar disorder and depression.

Finally, bipolar disorder and depression put patients at higher risk for dementia.

Analysis A retrospective of the health records of almost 30,000 patients in NHS mental health services between 2005 and 2019 over the age of 50 reveals that patients receiving lithium are less likely to develop dementia. Precisely,

  • Of the 29,618 patients in the study cohort, 548 patients were treated with lithium. Their average age was about 74 years, and about 40% of these patients were men;
  • of the lithium group, 9.7% were diagnosed with dementia;
  • for the group that did not receive lithium, 11.2% of patients were diagnosed with dementia.
  • after taking into account possible confounding factors, such as smoking, taking certain medications, physical and mental illnesses,

lithium use is associated with a lower risk of dementia,

for both short-term and long-term users;

One limitation of the study is certainly the small number of participants who received lithium here. Furthermore, it is an observational study. However, their findings already require larger clinical trials.

Especially since the conclusions are in line with previous studies that have already highlighted the interest of lithium in the prevention of dementia.

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