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.

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