Head Injury link to dementia risk

10 April 2018

The Lancet Psychiatry: Risk of dementia increased in people with traumatic brain injury

Researchers from Denmark and the U.S. have found a link between hospital admissions for brain injury and an increased risk of dementia. The findings are published today in the Lancet Psychiatry.

Dr Carol Routledge, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“This well-conducted study adds significant weight to previous evidence of a link between head injury and an increased risk of dementia. The researchers were able to take advantage of comprehensive health records from nearly 3 million people in Denmark to explore dementia risk at a national scale and shed more light on the long-term health effects of head injuries.

“While there is growing interest in the question of whether collisions in sports like rugby or football might affect dementia risk, this study only looked at head injuries that required hospital treatment and doesn’t tell us anything about the impacts you’d normally expect to see on the sports field.

“The study was not designed to be able to pick apart the biological processes that link head injury and dementia but this a key question facing dementia researchers. Alzheimer’s Research UK is supporting pioneering research to investigate the brain changes that underlie the link between head injury and dementia and this understanding will be crucial in developing new ways to minimise the long-term health effects of a head injury.

“While no one sets out to sustain a serious head injury, there are other risk factors for dementia that we can address through our lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet, not smoking, only drinking in moderation, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and staying mentally and physically active can all help to maintain a healthy brain as we age.”