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Nearly half of veterans found with blast concussions might have hormone deficiencies
Date:4/22/2013

few years have suggested that between 25 and 50 percent of people who receive TBIs have low pituitary hormone levels. However, these early studies have focused on injuries that civilians are more likely to receive, such as an automobile accident.

As a research physiologist who works for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Wilkinson decided to investigate whether veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who suffer blast injuries show a similar frequency of hypopituitarism.

He and his colleagues collected blood samples from 35 veterans coming home from these wars and diagnosed with a blast concussion about a year priorenough time for hormone changes to become evident. They then did a screen to compare blood concentrations of the eight hormones produced by the pituitary with the documented normal levels of these hormones.

Missed Opportunity for Treatment

The researchers found that about 42 percent of these veterans showed abnormally low levels of at least one of these hormones. The most common low hormone was human growth hormone, which can cause behavioral and cognitive symptoms similar to PTSD and depression, along with increases in blood lipids and changes in metabolism and blood pressure that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The second most common problem was hypogonadism, changes in sexual hormones that can affect body composition and sexual function.

The researchers also saw that some veterans had abnormally low levels of vasopressin and oxytocin, hormones that have been linked to psychiatric problems and bonding. Problems with these hormone levels, in addition to growth hormone, could lead to personality changes that affect relationships with loved ones, Wilkinson explains.

He notes that the prevalence of hypopituitarism in the general population is estimated at 0.03 percent. The 42 percent prevalence that these results suggest is cause for further investigation, he says.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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