Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

PTSD Linked to Dementia

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 9, 2010

By Todd Neale, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Published: June 07, 2010

Older U.S. veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to have an increased risk of developing dementia, a retrospective study showed.

Compared with those without PTSD, predominantly male veterans with the disorder had a 1.77-fold (95% CI 1.70 to 1.85) greater risk of developing dementia, according to Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues.

The results were similar when veterans with a history of head injury, substance abuse, and clinical depression were excluded, the researchers reported in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

“It is important that those with PTSD are treated, and further investigation is needed to see whether successful treatment of PTSD may reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes, including dementia,” Yaffe and her colleagues wrote.

“In addition, it is critical to follow up patients with PTSD, especially if they are of an advanced age, to screen for cognitive impairment.”

PTSD is common among U.S. veterans, affecting an estimated 17% of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The disorder can persist for decades.

There is some evidence of a link between PTSD and impaired cognition, although little is known about PTSD’s potential as a risk factor for dementia.

Yaffe and her colleagues explored the possibility using the Department of Veterans Affairs National Patient Care Database.

They identified 181,093 veterans ages 55 and older (mean age 68.8) who were free from dementia at baseline — 53,155 had PTSD and 127,938 did not.

The vast majority (96.5%) were men.

Through a median follow-up of 7.2 years, 10.6% of veterans with PTSD and 6.6% of those without the disorder were diagnosed with dementia (P<0.001).

After adjustment for demographics and medical and neuropsychiatric comorbidities, the presence of PTSD was associated with an elevated risk for all dementia subtypes, with hazard ratios ranging from 1.71 for Alzheimer’s disease to 2.19 for frontotemporal dementia.

“Mechanisms linking PTSD and dementia must be identified in hope of finding ways to improve the care and outcomes of patients with PTSD,” the researchers wrote.

They offered several possible mechanisms linking the two conditions, including worse cognitive function among veterans with PTSD.

“This poorer performance on cognitive testing compared with those without PTSD could be a risk factor for development of dementia because those with worse function may have less cognitive reserve and be at higher risk for cognitive impairment,” the researchers wrote.

In addition, chronic stress may damage or shrink the hippocampus, which is important in memory and learning. If PTSD leads to hippocampal atrophy, this, in turn, may increase risks of cognitive deficits and dementia.

Additional potential mechanisms include alterations in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, proinflammatory cytokines, or homocysteine levels or other vascular risk factors, all of which may be associated with dementia.

“Finally, it may be that having PTSD, or other chronic brain disorders, may predispose patients to developing dementia because of an increased nonspecific vulnerability — for example, genetic vulnerabilities shared by both disorders or childhood environmental factors,” Yaffe and her colleagues wrote.

They acknowledged some limitations of the study, including the use of diagnostic codes to establish the presence of PTSD, dementia, and other conditions, and the fact that the study participants were primarily male veterans. Thus, the results may not be generalizable to women or those treated elsewhere.

The study was funded by the Department of Defense. Yaffe was supported in part by the National Institute on Aging and an anonymous foundation.

2 Responses to “PTSD Linked to Dementia”

  1. Marlo Hone said

    Okay I have to say this. So what they are tell us. In a few years we will be more lost in the insurance system then we are now? People have a hard enough time to get help from the insurance company and the VA. Wonder if they will be around when our mind is fully gone.

    At least they are doing studies to show that people are truly hurting. Hopefully this will get more people to notice that the world is scary place for the injured. Soon people will be in need of even more help because of their injuries.

    So maybe this will help people get off their high horse and give the early treatment that these people need.

  2. Superman said

    Get a PET scan !!! IF you have to pay for it yourself get it. That will be un-disputable proof that these scumbag insurance companies will not be able to defend against. Even the V.A. fails to give Veterans PET Scans… because it proves without a doubt of the injury.

    What they want to do is give you a MRI or CT scan this does nothing and will show nothing more than if your scull has been deformed… you can look at yourself and know that. But to know how much brain damage or function is going on the key is a PET Scan.

    C.N.A. has admitted that PTSD and TBI are interrelated! Many have PTSD and can function, “hiding” the symptoms and even continuing to operate for years. Unfortunately the symptoms of PTSD are severely injuring the soldiers & contractors but they can still function. Upon suffering a TBI it causes that individual the inability to mask those issues from PTSD, resulting in severe exasperation of the PTSD and its symptoms. Therefore the TBI is the more serious injury.

    I read somewhere that 90% of the folks diagnosed with PTSD actually have a TBI. The symptoms over lap. The medical community knows what to do to but continue to fail to treat the injuries. You read that there is “Really no treatment for TBI” well let me tell you that’s BullS**t. First of all let me break it down for you.

    The TBI makes the PTSD worse, The TBI causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea, The TBI causes Pituitary Gland dysfunctions, which results in the lack of production of Vitamin D and Testosterone and B12. TBI also can cause seizures, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

    So lets break it down, knowing from basic research on the internet from numerous medical organizations there are undoubtedly connections so why are TBI patients not being screened for all these issues especially when they display the symptoms? Hell, TBI patients are not even being screened for TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs are just as bad as AIG and CNA the V.A. are giving the soldiers ridiculous tests for example

    Apple, Orange, Tomatoes… now what did I say.

    If you remember this then the V.A. says “Oh you don’t have a TBI or maybe you may have a Mild TBI” they just don’t care. Go get a PET Scan that shows Severe damage and look at the reaction from the V.A. shock, amazement, any explanation why the incorrect diagnosis, you will receive nothing and then you will receive NO treatment.

    It is pretty easy to connect the dots. I just did.

    The hormone test is needed to display your low levels of Vitamin D, B12 or Testosterone that are essential in your diet. Just read about the slue of serious medical conditions related to the lack of these three items. All because of the damage to the Pituitary Gland from the TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs, Aig, C.N.A all do not care they want you to die!

    They do not care.

    If they didn’t want you to die they would be treating and taking care of the TBI patients and they simply do not. Therefore you must take your treatment and care into your own hands… ask for the tests, demand for the tests to prove all your conditions, and then and maybe only then will they begin treatment.

    Remember the insurance company will deny diagnoses or any type of treatment that could prove your condition.

    They will attempt to say “You were never in any danger”

    Let me tell you anyone from a “Mail Clerk” to a “Cook” was in danger of rocket attacks and as anyone who served in a war zone clearly know that these folks in most cases are in more danger than the front line troops.
    As a soldier you would know if you were to attack the enemy what do you attack first? Your logistics. Your communications. Your support network.
    Guess what C.N.A & Aig that’s what our current enemy is doing, attacking our Support, Logistic, and Communication support. Lets break it down for these retards at C.N.A. and AIG I guess this is directed at their lawyers, example number
    1, Logistics means a truck convoy of food to support the troops. They enemy will attack and kill anyone they can and steal the food or supplies to use for themselves.
    Example number
    2, random rocket attacks, shooting as many rockets or mortars into the Green Zone randomly in the effort to obtain as many Causalities as they can. Therefore its clear there is no, “Safe Zone” no one is danger free. Humm Iraq and Afghanistan are listed officially a “War Zone” that is the entire country. The Red zone and Green Zone are both within that War Zone.
    I believe that is self explanatory.

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