Concussions May Accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted: Jan 15 2017, 1:03pm CST | by , Updated: Jan 16 2017, 12:38am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Concussions may Accelerate Alzheimer’s Disease
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New study find a link between traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's

Concussions can accelerate Alzheimer’s disease-related deterioration and cognitive decline in people who are already at risk of the disease, according to a new study by Boston University School of Medicine. 

Concussions have long been associated with causing changes in the brains of people. However, previous studies looking at whether head trauma is a risk factor for Alzheimer's have yielded conflicting results.

In the new study, researchers examined 160 U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Some of them had suffered traumatic brain injuries at least once during their military career while many other never had a concussion.

Scan performed on war veterans have showed the signs of Alzheimer’s related deterioration in those who received a traumatic brain injury at some point of their life.

“We found that having a concussion was associated with lower cortical thickness in brain regions that are the first to be affected in Alzheimer's disease," said study co-author Jasmeet Hayes, a psychiatry professor at BUSM.

“Our results suggest that when combined with generic factors, concussions may be associated with accelerated cortical thickness and memory decline in Alzheimer's disease relevant areas."

Surprisingly, the relative changes in brain were observed in a quite young group of people with an average of 32 years, suggesting that early detection may prevent further mental decline or delay the onset in the first place.

“A lot of times when you get that Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the brain is far gone at that point and medication can only do so much,” said Jasmeet Hayes. “But if we try to intervene at an earlier point in people’s lives, that’s where the important of this research is going to come in.”

An estimated 5.4 million Americans of all age had Alzheimer’s in 2016. The number of people diagnosed with the disease is increasing rapidly and are projected to reach 13.8 million by 2050.

The new study not only finds a link between concussion and Alzheimer's disease but also shows promise in detecting the effects of concussion on Alzheimer's early in life. However, it does not confirm whether concussion increases the risk of Alzheimer's itself.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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