There is mounting evidence that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), common among veterans returning from combat, may be associated with reduced cognitive function. Researchers are now looking at older veterans to see if PTSD increases the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Kristine Yaffe, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology and Associate Chair of Research for the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, and Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry and Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, and colleagues studied 181,093 veterans aged 55 and older without dementia. Of those included in the study, 53,155 veterans were diagnosed with PTSD and 127,938 veterans were not. Researchers followed the veterans from 2001 through 2007.
The researchers found veterans with PTSD were nearly twice as likely to develop dementia as those veterans without PTSD. Results were similar when researchers excluded veterans with a history of traumatic brain injury, substance abuse or depression.
"It is critical to follow patients with PTSD, and evaluate them early for dementia," Yaffe was quoted as saying. "Further research is needed to fully understand what links these two important disorders. With that knowledge we may be able to find ways to reduce the increased risk of dementia associated with PTSD."