Elderly man with a nurse, featured image for the news article around how dementia risk may be higher in people with MS

Dementia risk higher in people with MS

People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a greater risk of developing dementia than the general public, according to a new study from Korea. The risk for Alzheimer’s is more than twice as high and the risk of vascular dementia is almost four times as high.

Researchers also looked at the risk for dementia in people with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) which is a related neurological disorder on the central nervous system (CNS). They found that the risk for dementia was higher amongst MS patients.

The scientists looked at data from the Korean National Health Insurance Service database, from January 2010 to December 2017. This covered 1,347 people with MS and 1,460 people with NMOSD. All were 40 years or older and had not been diagnosed with dementia in the past year. Each group was matched with healthy controls.

During an average 4.4 years of follow-up, the incidence of dementia among people with MS was 17.08 per 1,000 person-years compared with 7.36 of the control group. This was a 2.34 times greater risk for dementia. Using similar calculations, researchers worked out that people with MS had a 2.23 times higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than the control group, and that the risk for vascular dementia was 3.75 times higher.

Researchers said it is important for doctors to be vigilant about cognitive impairment in people with MS and NMOSD, and that further research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved in dementia in people with MS.