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Traumatic brain injury can increase risk of Alzheimer's disease: Tips to avoid head injuries

Often, a traumatic brain injury results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. © Shutterstock

People who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at much higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disease or dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease, says a new study.

Increasing age is the greatest known risk factor of Alzheimer's disease, which is most common in people over the age of 65. However, this neurological condition is not a normal part of aging, and it can also affect people in their 30s or 40s. Alzheimer's disease, which causes memory loss and cognitive decline, can result from multiple factors, such as genetics, lifestyle and environment. Now, a new study has revealed that people who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) are at much higher risk of developing neurodegenerative disease or dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease.

Traumatic brain injury resulting from blows to the head can lead to chronic disruption of the brain and a cascade of long-term health conditions, noted the authors of the study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience. They suggested that microRNA biomarkers related to Alzheimer's disease play a role in brain damage caused by traumatic brain injury.

For the study, the researchers evaluated more than 800 miRNAs in TBI models. MiRNAs are small pieces of genetic material that play a critical role in normal gene expression.

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They found that TBI caused coordinated miRNA dysregulation followed by increased amounts of the beta-site amyloid cleaving enzyme, or BACE1, and loss of amyloid precursor protein (APP). BACE1 cleaves APP to generate amyloid beta peptides. Extracellular deposits of amyloid plaques are known as a major hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Based on their findings, the researchers believe that the coordination of miRNAs, BACE1 and APP may serve as collective biomarkers that is relevant to neurodegenerative disease in TBI patients.

How Can You Prevent Traumatic Brain Injury?

Often, a traumatic brain injury results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. Here are some tips suggested by the US CDC to reduce your chances of sustaining a traumatic brain injury:

Buckle Up Every Ride: Don't forget to wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Never drink and drive.

Protect your head: Make sure you wear a helmet, or appropriate headgear while riding a bike, motorcycle, skateboard, or horse. Also protect your head while playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing.

Review your medicines: If any medicine is making you dizzy or sleepy, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review the medication. Such side effects prescription medicines, over-the counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins can increase your risk for falling.

Get regular eye check-up: Have your eyes checked at least once a year and get your eyeglasses updated if needed.

Exercise regularly: The CDC recommends regular strength and balance exercises to make your legs stronger and improve your balance.

Make living and play areas safer for children: Open windows are dangerous for young children. Install window guards to keep them from falling out. Get safety gates fixed at the top and bottom of stairs when there are young children in the house. Make sure your child's playground have soft material under it, such as hardwood mulch or sand.

With inputs from IANS

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