Older adults who experience any head injury are twice as likely to die over a 30-year period than their peers without a head injury, and the more severe the injury, the greater the risk, a new study has found. What’s more, many of these eventual deaths are linked to neurological conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease, the researchers report.
Investigators followed outcomes of more than 13,000 community-dwelling participants over three decades. All-cause mortality among the 18% of participants who sustained a head injury during that time was 2.21 times the mortality rate among those with no head injury.
In addition, the risk of death for those with severe head injuries was nearly three times those of their uninjured peers, the researchers reported. Multiple injuries to the head also increased risk.
Further, deaths caused by neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and from unintentional injury, such as a fall, occurred more frequently among the participants with head trauma, the study’s authors noted. The connection to neurological conditions is an unexplained finding, and requires further study, they wrote.
The results underscore the need for targeted clinical interventions aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality for adults with head injury, the authors concluded.
Study data came from the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which is following more than 15,000 community dwelling participants aged between 45 and 65 years.
Full findings were published in JAMA Neurology.
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