The CO Research Trust will be hosting a presentation to talk about the results of a research project which has looked at the effect of carbon monoxide (CO) exposure on older people and considers whether low-level, long-term CO exposure is a potential risk factor for early cognitive decline.

The presentation will take place online on Thursday 21st Oct at 4pm until 5pm and is open to anyone who has an interest in this subject area.

To sign up for the presentation click here.

Older people have long been identified as a group susceptible to the effects of CO exposure. This is not only due to physiological reasons but sometimes because of behavior, in terms of going out less often, but also sometimes economic factors. For example, heating and living in one room in the home to keep warm – if a faulty appliance is used, this can lead to chronic prolonged low-level exposure to CO or even a fatality.

The investigation which was carried out by PhD candidate Beth Cheshire at Lancaster University, worked alongside the West Midlands Fire Services to gather data on the presence of CO in the homes of older adults.

Symptoms of dementia include memory and cognitive impairment such as effects on language, motor skills and recognition. These symptoms are like those displayed by people who have been poisoned by CO.

Fire Officers often report high levels of confusion in older residents who may be at risk of chronic CO exposure. Evidence indicates that neuropsychological deficits may result from less severe CO exposures (than those that might trigger a CO alarm), and that older adults may be particularly vulnerable.

However, it is unknown whether CO exposure could be a significant unidentified cause of cognitive impairment. If found to be the case, this is a highly preventable issue.

This research has aimed to plug the knowledge gap on whether low-level and long-term CO exposure is a specific risk factor for older adults contributing to cognitive decline.

Baroness Finlay, Chair of the Board of Trustees at the CO Research Trust said: “This is a critical piece of work, which has the potential to have far reaching consequences and make changes to the way that older patients who present themselves with neurocognitive and neuropsychological symptoms are diagnosed and treated. We are excited to share the results of this important piece of research with everyone who may have an interest in this area.”

The Alzheimer’s Society estimate that more than 850,000 people have a diagnosis of dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to more than 1 million by 2025. They anticipate that this will increase to 2 million by 2051. One in six people over the age of 80 have dementia whilst in the UK there are more than 40,000 people under 65 years of age with dementia.

Since 2013, the Trust has invested almost £3m in research projects and is committed to investing a further £1.5m in the next five years.

The Trust’s vision is a world where people are not exposed to CO. Not only are people dying, but many are unaware that they are being poisoned at low levels, which can lead to adverse health outcomes.

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About the CO Research Trust
The CO Research Trust (formerly the Gas Safety Trust) is a registered charity which was established in 2005. The vision of the charity is a world where people are not exposed to carbon monoxide (CO).

For more information please contact.

Natalie Fleck

CO Research Trust

Follow us: @COResearchTrust

To address the focus of the CO Research Trust’s activity over the next five years in more detail, we have put together this blog post.

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