According to a large long-term study, a traumatic brain injury can increase the risk of suffering from various serious illnesses in the years to follow. The risk of hypertension and diabetes doubled, and the risk of dementia was even four times higher. The risk of suffering a stroke has also increased significantly, Boston researchers report in the Jama Network Open journal. Patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury also had an increased risk of premature death over the next ten years.
For the study, they looked at patients 18 years of age or older who had suffered mild, moderate, or severe head injury and followed them for ten years. As a comparison, people who did not have traumatic brain injuries and who matched the patients in terms of age, gender and other health characteristics were used. A total of 4351 people took part in the study.
According to the scientists, the reasons for the observed relationships are very complex: changed behavioral habits could play a role, such as less exercise, an unhealthy diet, sleep disturbances, regular use of pain relievers or increased alcohol consumption. Influences from inflammatory and immunological processes to a modified intestinal flora are also conceivable, for example after a hospital stay or through drugs.
The study provides signals that should be taken seriously, according to Prof. Dr. Peter Berlit, Secretary General of the German Society of Neurology. “People with craniocerebral trauma should be aware of these risks and consistently follow a healthy lifestyle in order to reduce their personal risk of diabetes, hypertension and stroke. They should also be seen by their family doctor every two years to identify and treat diseases such as hypertension and diabetes at an early stage, ”says Berlit.