In two studies from the University of Eastern Finland, scientists found that educational background and previous traumatic brain injury may potentially affect the risk of the disease.
FTD spectrum disorders have, depending on the subtype, major effects on behavior, linguistic functions and cognitive processing.
Many genetic mutations have been implicated as contributing to these disorders, but their non-genetic and thus potentially preventable risk factors remain unknown and scarcely studied.
The current research showed that people with frontotemporal dementia were, on average, less educated than patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, FTD patients who did not carry a genetic mutation causing the disease were less educated and had a higher prevalence of cardiac disease compared to FTD patients carrying a mutation.
The researchers used data from over 1,000 patients, including patients from Finland and Italy, with all the most common subtypes of FTD represented.
In addition to patients with FTD and patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the study included a control group that did not have a diagnosis of any neurodegenerative disease.
Based on the study, it seems that patients with different subtypes of the FTD spectrum, and patients with the genetic and non-genetic diseases, are different in terms of several risk factors.
A second study showed that previous traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of FTD, especially in patients who did not carry a causal genetic mutation.
In addition, patients who had suffered a head injury appeared, on average, to develop FTD earlier than others.
The researchers compared Finnish FTD patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and with healthy controls.
They say these results offer a better understanding of the disease mechanisms and, possibly in the future, an opportunity to prevent FTD.
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The study was conducted by Helmi Soppela et al and published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology and the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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