Dementia is a progressive disease, most commonly seen in the elderly. This cognitive disorder is characterized by a significant decline in memory and thinking skills that weakens a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. Though dementia is not a disease in itself, it is still the most feared illness due to an array of degenerative symptoms associated with it. Realizing the severity of disability caused by the disease, scientists have been constantly looking for drugs to check its progression.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen recently revealed that people suffering from rosacea are at a greater risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease. They said that the probability of the disorder was the highest in elderly patients and in those who were detected with rosacea by a dermatologist. The study, published online in the Annals of Neurology in April 2016, investigated for the first time a possible link between rosacea and dementia in the elderly.
For the study, titled “Patients with rosacea have increased risk of dementia,” the scientists observed 5,591,718 Danish citizens aged 18 years or more during 1997-2012, which included 82,439 patients afflicted with rosacea. The respondents were observed till the last day of 2012 during which many of them had been diagnosed with dementia or had died due to other reasons. During this period, 99,040 people had been detected with dementia, of which 29,193 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Rosacea can be a risk factor for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
After making the necessary adjustments for possible unknown factors, the scientists observed that the patients afflicted with rosacea had 7 percent increased risk of suffering from dementia, and 25 percent higher probability of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Also, it was found that among the rosacea patients, females developed a 28 percent more chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s when compared to men who only had a 16 percent higher chance. When grouped according to age, respondents aged 60 years had a 20 percent higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The patients diagnosed with rosacea by certified dermatologists revealed increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at 42 percent and 92 percent respectively.
Rosacea is a long-term skin disorder characterized by inflammation due to the heightened expression of certain proteins identified as matrix metalloproteinases and antimicrobial peptides. The presence of the proteins is also attributed to certain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and many forms of dementia, which lead to a degeneration of the nervous system.
Exploring a possible association between rosacea and prevalence of dementia, lead author of the study Dr. Alexander Egeberg of the University of Copenhagen said, “A subtype of patients have prominent neurological symptoms such as burning and stinging pain in the skin, migraines, and neuropsychiatric symptoms suggesting a link between rosacea and neurological diseases. Indeed, emerging evidence suggests that rosacea may be linked with neurological disorders including Parkinson’s disease and now also Alzheimer’s disease.”
Path to recovery
One must remember that being afflicted with rosacea does not necessarily mean that the person will also acquire dementia. But the observations lay the groundwork for further researches into any probable link that may exist between rosacea and neurodegenerative diseases. It is also pertinent to discover whether treatment of rosacea may help alleviate dementia symptoms.
It may take some time to treat dementia but scientists are constantly on the lookout for an innovative treatment that can check the development and increasing prevalence of the disorder.
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