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Approved Research

Association between hospital admissions and inflammation on cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in older adults

Principal Investigator: Professor Robert Sanders
Approved Research ID: 82574
Approval date: March 22nd 2022

Lay summary

With the rapid ageing of the world's population, research to optimise the cognitive health of older adults is vital to maintaining their independence and social participation. This project aims to improve our understanding of the impact of hospitalisation on changes in cognition otherwise observed in healthy ageing. The objective of this study is to identify the mechanisms and modifiable risk factors, associated with acute illness, to minimize harm and inform future healthcare innovation.

We will analyse data from the UK Biobank to assess changes in cognition in this cohort associated with cumulative hospital admissions, as a measure of cumulative burden of acute illness. We will adjust our analyses for known risk factors like ageing, cardiovascular health and alcohol. However, we also seek to contribute new findings on associations hospital admissions, brain degeneration, injury to white matter tracts in the brain and inflammation to test whether these are potential mechanisms for the changes in cognitive health over time. Hospital admissions will be analyzed using the established data registry of Hospital Episode Statistics. We will utilize data on cognitive health in this cohort using the touchscreen and online follow-up standardized cognitive testing and compare these results to lifestyle factors collected at the same time and over multiple timepoints. Results of existing blood tests and brain imaging will then be used to evaluate plausible associations between hospital admissions and brain injury and inflammation.

This project is anticipate to take 36 months from receiving the data to publication submission and will involve two data scientists and two senior investigators experienced in dementia and medical research.