(JustPatriots.com)- A new study on the long-term impact of head injuries on death rates found that suffering from head injuries could double or even triple the risk of early death.
The study from the University of Pennsylvania showed that over a 30-year period, participants who suffered any head injury had two times the rate of mortality than those who did not suffer a head injury. What’s more, mortality rates among those with moderate or severe head injuries were nearly three times higher.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Holly Elser, a neurology resident at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said in a press release that the increased mortality rate was “particularly the case” for those who suffered “multiple or severe head injuries.”
Elser said the study “highlights the importance of safety measures” to prevent head injuries, including wearing seatbelts and helmets.
Around 23 million Americans aged 40 and older have a history of head injury involving a loss of consciousness. Previous research has linked head injuries to late-onset epilepsy, dementia, and stroke.
Researchers used 30 years of data on 13,000 people who were neither hospitalized nor living in nursing homes. The data was derived from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study which included people living in Minneapolis suburbs, Washington County, MD, Forsythe County, NC, and Jackson, MS.
Around 18 percent of the people had experienced one or more head injuries during the study period and 12 percent of those injuries were moderate or severe. The median period between head injury and death was 4.7 years.
Researchers found death from all causes occurred in almost 65 percent of those who suffered a head injury compared to 55 percent with no head injury. For those with a head injury, death from all causes was 2.2 times greater and over 2.8 times greater in those with severe head injuries.
The most common causes of death were cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders like dementia, epilepsy, or stroke. Deaths from neurological disorders and unintentional injuries were more frequent in those with a previous head injury, according to the study.