Monday, 23 April, 2018

Study confirms link between traumatic brain injury and dementia

According to the UN's World Health Organization about 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia including Alzheimer's Disease- the most common form with about two-thirds of cases Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds
Judith Alexander | 12 April, 2018, 00:38

A team from the University of Washington has found that the risk of dementia is significantly higher for people with a history of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) than for people with no history of TBI.

A large study offers more evidence of a link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia later in life, with repeated injuries and severe ones posing the greatest danger.

A single traumatic brain injury characterized as severe increases the risk by 35 percent, while a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion increased the risk by 17 percent.

The study is based on analyzing 36 years of medical records for almost 2.8 million people in Denmark over age 50, looking at their histories of brain injuries, dementia and other medical conditions.

The risk of dementia increased 33 per cent higher for two or three TBIs, 61 per cent higher for four TBIs, and 183 per cent higher for five or more TBIs. A study of 3.3 million people in Sweden earlier this year showed similar results.

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

In a separate project, Irish researchers are now looking to recruit 100 adults - without dementia or any form of significant cognitive difficulty - for a large scale study which hopes to identify early signs of dementia years before memory loss and confusion develop.

In total, 5.3 per cent of participants with dementia had a history of TBI compared with 4.7 per cent of those without the condition. Leading causes of TBI include falls, traffic crashes and assaults.

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Between 1999 and 2013, 4.5 per cent of the study population aged 50 and older were diagnosed with dementia. The study also examined the impact of sustaining multiple separate brain injuries and the likelihood of subsequently developing dementia.

Previous research has suggested a link between TBI, including mild TBI (concussion) and subsequent dementia.

Men with TBI histories developed dementia at a 30 percent rate, while women had just a 19 percent rate.

The association between TBI and dementia held true even when comparing people with a history of TBI to those with non-TBI fractures not involving the skull or spine.

The researchers also discovered that a brain injury in your 20s increases the risk of developing dementia in your 50s by 60 percent.

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

"Our analysis raises some very important issues, in particular that efforts to prevent traumatic brain injury, especially in younger people, may be inadequate considering the huge and growing burden of dementia and the prevalence of TBI worldwide", Fann said. "The attributable risk of traumatic brain injury to different exposures and how these change across time needs policy attention, given it is likely that prevention of these need be considered at societal, community, and local levels".

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