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Long-Term Increase in Death Rates After Head Injury

Young adults have increased mortality more than a year after even mild injury

FRIDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Head injury is associated with increased susceptibility to death for at least 13 years after hospital admission, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Tom M. McMillan, M.D., from the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed data from a cohort of 767 patients who sustained head injuries. Patients were matched with two controls: one by age, gender, and social deprivation, and the other for duration of hospital stay not due to a head injury. Patients were followed up for 13 years.

The investigators found that two-fifths of the patients who had sustained a head injury had died during the study period. The death rate among head injury patients was 30.99 per 1,000 per year, compared to 13.72 per 1,000 per year in the control group. More than a year after injury, the death rate in adults aged 15 to 54 was 17.36 per 1,000 per year in the head injury group compared to 2.36 per 1,000 per year in the control group. For older adults, the difference was less pronounced. Young adults who sustained mild head injuries also had an increased death rate of 14.82 per 1,000 per year compared to 2.21 in the control group. There was no link found between gender or social deprivation and death rates after a head injury.

"The elevated risk of mortality after mild head injury and in younger adults makes further study in this area a priority," the authors write.

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