Brain injuries linked to increased risk for dementia

Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds

Concussion in 20s could increase the risk of dementia by 60 per cent, Lancet study finds

But a single severe brain injury increased the risk of later dementia by 35 percent compared with a person who never had brain trauma.

"However, it's important to emphasise that although the relative risk of dementia is increased after traumatic brain injury, the absolute risk increase is low".

"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", said lead author Jesse Fann, Professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. 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.

But it would be advisable for people who had suffered a severe knock to the head - whether in a fall, vehicle accident, through contact sport, or an assault - to take extra precautions.

Researchers analyzed 36 years of health records of 2.8 million people in Denmark, where a national health system makes it possible to explore connections in a far-reaching way. Every year, more than 50 million people worldwide experience a TBI, which occurs when an external force disrupts the brain's normal function.

Even when controlling for other medical and psychiatric conditions associated with dementia, such as depression and hypertension, people with TBI were 1.24 times more likely to develop dementia than people without a brain injury.

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Dementia affects up to 55,000 people in Ireland and Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-70 per cent of all cases. Among first TBI diagnoses, 85 percent had been characterized as mild and 15 percent had been characterized as severe or skull fracture. Of those, 5.3 percent had sustained at least one TBI during the observation period, which began in 1977.

Between 1999 and 2013, 4.5 per cent of the study population aged 50 and older were diagnosed with dementia.

Among men and women with TBI histories, men had slightly higher rate of developing dementia (30 percent vs. 19 percent). He warns parents and children to be well-aware of risks of TBIs in contact sports.

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on traumatic brain injury. "If they have a history of traumatic brain injury, they should do their best to prevent further traumatic brain injuries".

The study is being carried out by researchers at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) at Trinity College Dublin, as part of a study in collaboration with Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh universities, Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the Inserm Neuroscience in France.

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