Introduction: Subclinical thyroid dysfunction is a possible risk factor for cognitive impairment in old age, but results are inconsistent. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction among older community-dwelling adults and to see whether thyroid function impacts the cognitive status of the elderly.
Methods: We included 1750 participants from the Study on Aging and Dementia in Mexico (SADEM). All subjects were evaluated clinically via specific interviews. TSH levels were analyzed by chemiluminescent immunometry assay. We classified participants into five thyroid state groups: (1) normal TSH levels (0.40-4.0 IU/L) were considered euthyroid; (2) Overt hyperthyroidism: TSH <0.3 IU/l and FT4 >23 pmol/l; (3) Overt hypothyroidism: TSH >4.8 IU/l, FT4 <13 pmol/l; (4) Subclinical hyperthyroidism: TSH <0.3 IU/l, FT4: 13-23 pmol/l; (5) Subclinical hypothyroidism: TSH >4.8 IU/l, FT4: 13-23 pmol/l.
Results: The overall estimated prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in Mexican population was 23.7% (95% CI, 22.66-26.77). Of these, 15.4% older adults were classified as subclinical hypothyroidism, 7.2% overt hypothyroidism, 0.5% subclinical hyperthyroidism, and 0.6% overt hyperthyroidism. The association of thyroid dysfunction with cognitive impairment was most evident in overt hypothyroidism OR = 1.261 (1.185-1.343).
Conclusions: The present study demonstrated a high prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in Mexican elderly people living in the community. A relationship between cognitive impairment and the presence of hypothyroidism was also shown, and to a lesser degree in hyperthyroidism.
Keywords: Cognitive function; Elderly; Mexico; SADEM; Thyroid function.