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Dementia Risk Higher for Vets With Post-Traumatic Stress

Vets with PTSD at higher risk even than those who suffered traumatic injuries in combat

FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Older veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at higher risk for dementia than those who don't have PTSD, even higher than those who suffered traumatic injury in action, according to a study in the September issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Salah U. Qureshi, M.D., of the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, and colleagues compared the prevalence and incidence of dementia in 10,481 veterans 65 or older who had PTSD, or had received a Purple Heart (PH) for wounds suffered, or had both PTSD and a PH, or had neither PTSD nor a PH.

The researchers found that dementia prevalence was 11.1 percent in the PTSD-only group, 7.2 percent in the PTSD plus PH group, 5.9 percent in the PH-only group, and 4.5 percent in the group with neither PTSD nor a PH. The findings were significant even after the researchers adjusted for other dementia risk factors, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

"The incidence and prevalence of dementia [are] greater in veterans with PTSD. It is unclear whether this is due to a common risk factor underlying PTSD and dementia or to PTSD being a risk factor for dementia. Regardless, this study suggests that veterans with PTSD should be screened more closely for dementia. Because PTSD is so common in veterans, this association has important implications for veteran care," the authors write.

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