In a study from the University of Pennsylvania, scientists found adults who suffered any head injury during a 30-year study period had two times the death risk than those who did not have any head injury.
Death risks among those with moderate or severe head injuries were nearly three times higher.
Head injury has been linked with a number of long-term health conditions, including disability, late-onset epilepsy, dementia, and stroke.
In the current study, the team evaluated 30 years of data from over 13,000 community-dwelling people (those not hospitalized or living in nursing home facilities) to determine if a head injury has an impact on mortality rates in adults over the long term.
They found that 18.4% of the participants reported one or more head injuries during the study period.
Among those who suffered a head injury, 12.4% were recorded as moderate or severe. The median period of time between a head injury and death was 4.7 years.
Death from all causes was recorded in 64.6% of those who suffered a head injury, and in 54.6% of those without any head injury.
The researchers found that the mortality rate from all causes among participants with a head injury was 2.21 times the mortality rate among those with no head injury.
Further, the mortality rate among those with more severe head injuries was 2.87 times the mortality rate among those with no head injury.
This study shows that head injury is associated with higher death risks even long-term. This is particularly the case for individuals with multiple or severe head injuries.
This highlights the importance of safety measures, like wearing helmets and seatbelts, to prevent head injuries.
The team also examined the data for specific causes of death among all participants.
Overall, the most common causes of death were cancers, heart disease, and neurologic disorders (which include dementia, epilepsy, and stroke).
Among people with head injuries, deaths caused by neurologic disorders and unintentional injury or trauma (like falls) occurred more frequently.
Nearly two-thirds of neurologic causes of death were attributed to neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19 and death, and results showing vitamin B may slow down cognitive decline.
The study was conducted by Holly Elser et al and published in JAMA Neurology.
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