Brain injuries 'increase risk of dementia'

12 April 2018 08:49

Dementia affects around 47 million people worldwide

Dementia affects around 47 million people worldwide

A recent study has revealed that people who sustain brain injuries are at an increased risk of developing dementia later in life.

The study of 2.8 million people showed that those who have had traumatic brain injuries at some stage in their life are 24% more likely to get dementia than those who haven't.

The risk was vastly increased if the person sustained a brain injury during their 20s, who were 63% more likely to develop the condition.

The TBI factor

Dementia affects around 47 million people worldwide, and that number is supposedly going to double in the next two years.

This large study was carried out in Denmark over a 36-year period. It found that those who had even suffered one TBI (concussion) were 17% more likely to get dementia.

Those who suffered a TBI in their 30s were 37% more likely to develop the condition, while those in their 50s were only looking at a 2% increase in chances.

Professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Jesse Fann, said that the study highlighted important issues involving inadequate efforts to prevent traumatic brain injuries in young people.

She did assure, however, that the findings "do not suggest that everyone who suffers a traumatic brain injury will go on to develop dementia in later life." Only 5% of the people studied actually went on to develop the disease, and only about 5% of these had suffered a TBI.

Other factors

Dr Doug Brown of the Alzheimer's Society suggested that brain injuries were a "much smaller" contributory factor than smoking or a sedentary lifestyle. He noted that the two latter factors were "much easier for us all to do something about."

Drinking in moderation, a healthy diet and not smoking are all positive steps towards prevention of developing the disease, said director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, Dr Carol Routledge.

The study was carried out on a largely similar ethic population, which cannot accurately represent ethnic groups from other countries, Dr Fann outlined.

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