According to new research, veterans who have suffered a brain injury during combat may be much more likely to develop symptoms of dementia. According to the study, veterans with brain injury are 60 percent more likely develop dementia, compared to veterans who did not have a history of brain injury.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University Of California San Francisco School of Medicine, and evaluated close to 190,000 veterans. These veterans were an average of 68 years old, and did not suffer from dementia. Out of these, 1,229 veterans have been diagnosed with a brain injury. When the researchers followed up with these veterans who had suffered a brain injury, they found that over a period of nine years of follow-up, 16% of veterans with brain injury showed symptoms of dementia. Among the group of veterans with no history of brain injury, the rate was just 10%. The researchers found consistent results even when they accounted for other factors that could have increased the risk of dementia, like diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as alcohol abuse.
Veterans who suffered a brain injury developed symptoms of dementia at approximately 78.5 years old on an average, while among the group of veterans that did not suffer any brain injury, the onset of dementia symptoms was at approximately 81 years.
The large number of veterans returning from combat duty with traumatic brain injury signifies an increasing population of people who are at high risk for symptoms of dementia. The researchers believe that these patients should be periodically screened for symptoms of suicidal tendencies, depression, and alcohol abuse and misuse. They should also be screened for their access to firearms.