Head Injury Linked to Long-Term Risk for Dementia

Man with head injury sitting in wheelchair while doctor reviews x-ray.
Head injury is associated with dementia over a median 25 years of follow-up.

HealthDay News — Head injury is associated with dementia over a median 25 years of follow-up, according to a study published online March 9 in Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Andrea L.C. Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 14,376 participants enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the associations of head injury with dementia during a median 25 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that head injury correlated with dementia risk (hazard ratio, 1.44), with evidence of a dose-response pattern (one head injury: hazard ratio, 1.25; two or more head injuries: hazard ratio, 2.14). The association was stronger among female versus male participants (hazard ratios, 1.69 versus 1.15) and for White versus Black participants (hazard ratios, 1.55 versus 1.22).

“Our findings show that the number of head injuries matter — more head injuries are associated with greater risk for dementia,” Schneider said in a statement. “The dose-dependence of this association suggests that prevention of head injury could mitigate some risk of dementia later in life. While head injury is not the only risk factor for dementia, it is one risk factor for dementia that is modifiable by behavior changes such as wearing helmets and seat belts.”

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