Study confirms link between traumatic brain injury and dementia

12 April, 2018, 00:41 | Author: Otis Hoffman
  • Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, even a mild one such as a concussion, may raise your risk for dementia, a new study suggests.

The scientists involved in the brain injury and dementia research identified every diagnosis of TBI from the health records of a Danish population of 2.8 million people between 1977 and 2013.

Researchers found the "fully adjusted risk of all-cause dementia in people with a history of TBI was higher than in those without a history of TBI, as was the specific risk of Alzheimer's disease".

"What surprised us was that even a single mild TBI was associated with a significantly higher risk of dementia", added Jesse Fann, Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, US.

Advanced, instant brain-injury detecting test could analyze patient consciousness along with effectively improved patient care by probing in to their central nervous system. There are about 10 million new dementia cases each year.

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A TBI is classified as a blow to the head which disrupts the normal functioning of the brain.

Research so far has produced conflicting results, and the relationship between TBI and dementia remains poorly understood due to limitations of previous studies including: small sample sizes, short follow-up periods, limited information about the number, severity, and timing of head impacts, and lack of comparison to non-TBI trauma controls. The researchers found that 4.3 percent of participants with dementia had at least one mild TBI, compared with 4 percent of those without dementia. Leading causes include falls, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults. The mean age at first diagnosis of dementia was 80.7 years. For example, a person who sustained a TBI in their 20s was 63% more likely to develop dementia 30 years later compared to someone who did not sustain such an injury in their 20s.

Fann said it's important to recognize that most people who sustain a single concussion do not develop dementia. But he said the findings might lead people with TBI histories to change their behaviors toward other potential risk factors for dementia, such as limiting alcohol and tobacco use, engaging in regular exercise, preventing obesity, and treating hypertension, diabetes, and depression. TBI correlated with elevated dementia risk compared to individuals with a non-TBI fracture not involving the skull or spine (hazard ratio, 1.29). More than 50 million people experience a TBI each year and Professor Fann said tackling this could help lower the overall risk of dementia which already affects 47 million people worldwide, but is expected to double in the next 20 years as life expectancies increase.

According to Professor Fann, "Shedding light on risk factors for dementia is one of the most important tasks in health research".

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