Mayo: Head trauma, memory issues linked to Alzheimer's

Head trauma combined with memory impairment may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer's-associated plaques in the brain, a new Mayo Clinic study suggests.

Researchers found that among people with a history of concussions, only those who also suffered memory and thinking problems had a buildup of Alzheimer's associated plaque in the brain.

"This means if you have a head trauma, it doesn't mean you're definitely going to develop Alzheimer's disease," said Mayo Clinic researcher Michelle Mielke. "It starts to give us a window of opportunity into the mechanism by which head trauma may be associated with Alzheimer's disease."

While concussions are bad for the brain, "this study shows that having a head trauma doesn't mean you're necessarily going to develop Alzheimer's disease," she added.

For individuals with some memory impairment, head trauma was associated with a five-fold increase in the odds of having significant brain changes, Mielke said.

The study was published Thursday in the online issue of the journal Neurology.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.