Study suggesting concussion could double dementia risk

A University of California (UCSF) led study out today has suggested that concussion, even without loss of conciousness, can increase a person's risk of dementia.

The study, published today in JAMA Neurology, looked at the cases of over 350,000 veterans from two databases and found that concussion without loss of consciousness led to 2.36 times the risk for dementia.

These risks were higher for those who lost conciousness (2.51) and were nearly four times higher (3.77) for those with the more serious moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury.

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

 'For some time now, dementia researchers have been fascinated by the potential link between head injuries, like concussion, and the risk of developing the condition. While this is one of the largest studies of its kind, it is focused only on US war veterans so we don’t know how relevant it is to the general public yet. We would need more detailed studies of a wider population group to investigate this and confirm the suggestion that concussion doubles a person’s dementia risk.

'Dementia is the UK’s biggest killer and with 850,000 people in the UK currently affected, it’s imperative that Alzheimer’s Society and others fund research into lifestyle factors that could increase risk of dementia, helping us to understand better how we might prevent it. In the meantime we should try and avoid anything that might risk getting a head injury and there are actions we can take that do reduce dementia risk, such as not smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly.'