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Pivotal study finds link between PTSD and dementia
Date:9/1/2010

Results of a study reported in the September issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggest that Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a greater risk for dementia than Veterans without PTSD, even those who suffered traumatic injuries during combat.

Exposure to life threatening events, like war, can cause PTSD, and there are high rates among veterans. PSTD includes symptoms such as avoiding things or people that remind a person of the trauma, nightmares, difficulty with sleep, and mood problems.

"We found Veterans with PTSD had twice the chance for later being diagnosed with dementia than Veterans without PTSD," said Mark Kunik, M.D., M.P.H., a psychiatrist at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Texas, USA, and senior author of the article. "Although we cannot at this time determine the cause for this increased risk, it is essential to determine whether the risk of dementia can be reduced by effectively treating PTSD. This could have enormous implications for Veterans now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."

The study included 10,481 Veterans at least 65 years of age who had been seen at the VA Medical Centre at least twice between 1997 and 1999. Outpatient data were gathered for all identified patients until 2008. Subjects who had been wounded during combat (with and without a PTSD diagnosis) were also identified to provide a group with confirmed injuries and combat experience. A group with two visits, but no PTSD or combat related injuries, was identified for purposes of comparison.

36.4% of the Veterans in this study had PTSD. 11.1% of those with PTSD but not injured, and 7.2% of those with PTSD and injured, had dementia, compared to 4.5% and 5.9% respectively in the non-PTSD groups. These results remained significant after other risk factors of dementia were taken into account like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, etc.

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Contact: Jennifer Beal
healthnews@wiley.com
44-012-437-70633
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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