Posted on Sep 20, 2010, 6 a.m.
Researchers find that a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) significantly increases a person’s likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia later on in life.
In a groundbreaking study, researchers from the Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center in Texas have found a significant relationship between post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dementia. Mark Kunik, M.D., M.P.H., Salah Qureshi, M.D., and colleagues studied data of 10,481 veterans aged 65 and over. Results showed that 36.4% of veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD, and that 11.1% of those with PTSD but not injured, and 7.2% of those with PTSD and injured also had dementia. In comparison, the incidence of dementia in veterans who did not have PTSD was just 4.5% in uninjured and 5.9% in injured veterans. The results remained significant even after accounting for known risk factors for dementia, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. "We found veterans with PTSD had twice the chance for later being diagnosed with dementia than veterans without PTSD," said senior author Mark Kunik. "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 authors say that there are a number of explanations for the link between PTSD and dementia. It could be that cognitive impairment in PTSD is an early marker of dementia, or that having PTSD makes one more likely to get dementia, or that PTSD and dementia have some characteristics in common.
Qureshi SU, Kimbrell T, Pyne JM, Magruder KM, Hudson TJ, Petersen NJ, Yu HJ, Schulz PE, Kunik ME. Greater Prevalence and Incidence of Dementia in Older Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2010;58:1627-1633. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.02977.x