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Study Finds the Effect of Alcohol and Aspirin in TBI Patients

An estimated 1.5 million people in the United States incur a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year and 60,000 people die annually from these injuries//. TBI is the ultimate cause of death in 40 percent of all fatal trauma cases. TBI may result from a direct blow to the brain or from the secondary effects of head trauma such as bleeding, swelling, decreased oxygen, or increased pressure on the brain. Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) or bleeding inside the head is the cause of death in 70-80 percent of patients presenting with TBI.

ICH increases the risk of brain damage, which can lead to serious residual neurological disabilities in surviving patients. Every year, 80,000 to 90,000 people experience the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities associated with TBI. In the United States today, there are currently as many as 5.3 million TBI survivors living with these disabilities.

There have been many studies dedicated to predicting overall clinical outcome in TBI patients. The factors which have been identified thus far are age, level of consciousness on first admission to the hospital, and degree of injury on computed tomography (CT) scanning. It is known that up to 50 percent all cases of ICH can increase with time, resulting in worsening neurological status and appearance on CT scan.

More than half of the patients brought to the hospital with TBI are intoxicated and many have cardiovascular disease requiring them to be on blood-thinners such as aspirin. Yet no prior studies have examined the potential effects of alcohol and aspirin consumption on worsening ICH in patients with TBI. Researchers at Elmhurst Hospital Center performed a one-year observational study on 150 patients treated at this Level 1 Trauma Center.

Aspirin thins the blood, and reduces the risk of clots forming in key blood vessels, yet can cause bleeding problems in people with certain conditions Theoretically, TBI patients who are aspirin users coul
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