Study finds dementia risk increased with brain injury

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

Sustaining a traumatic brain injury (TBT) in your 20s may increase the risk of developing dementia including Alzheimer's in your 50s by 60 per cent, a review of almost three million patients has revealed.

The study, in Lancet Psychiatry, used Danish health databases that included all residents as of January 1, 1995, who were at least 50 years old at some time during the 36-year follow-up, from 1977 to 2013.

Today, a study that analyzed data from 2-point-8 million people found that T-B-Is and their severity heighten the risk of developing dementia. The risk increase jumps to 60 percent if that injury was in your 20s. People with a history of TBI had a higher fully-adjusted risk of all-cause dementia (hazard ratio, 1.24) compared to those without a history of TBI; the risk of Alzheimer's disease was also increased (hazard ratio, 1.16).

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.

"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 Jesse Fann, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Fann said future research trying to narrow down why some people with brain injuries get dementia while other don't is important.

Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide, and that number is expected to double in the next 20 years, the researchers said.

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A TBI is classified as a blow to the head which disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Causes include road traffic accidents, falls, sporting accidents and assaults.

Those who sustained a TBI in their 30s were 37% more likely to develop dementia 30 years later compared to those who did not.

"It certainly adds to the evidence that TBI is associated with negative not just short term, but long-term, outcomes", Fann said.

The research may lend support to campaigns for better safety in sports including football, boxing and rugby.

A link between brain injury and dementia has been confirmed by a study of nearly three million people. Among first TBI diagnoses, 85 percent had been characterized as mild and 15 percent had been characterized as severe or skull fracture. "Previous studies on war veterans with head injuries came to a similar conclusion that about its risk for dementia". 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. Between 1999 and 2013, 126,734 people (4.5%) aged 50 or older were diagnosed with dementia.

The findings also show that men with a history of TBI had a slightly higher risk of developing dementia than women.

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