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Study Links PTSD And Dementia

Audio

Aired 9/6/10

San Diego veterans who suffer post traumatic stress disorder may be more likely to develop dementia late in life. That's the conclusion of a study done by the VA Medical Center in Houston.

— San Diego veterans who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be more likely to develop dementia late in life. That's the conclusion of a study done by the VA Medical Center in Houston.

The authors of the study examined more than 10,000 veterans over age 65 who visited Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers in the late 1990s. They found that veterans who suffered PTSD were twice as likely to have Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.

Psychiatrist Salah Qureshi, with the Houston VA Center, said the study did not prove that PTSD causes dementia -- but further study could reach that conclusion.

"So one of the steps that we can do to find if there is a causal link is to see if treatment of PTSD affects these rates of dementia," said Qureshi.

He added that both PTSD and dementia affect the hippocampus, a part of the brain that stores memory. About 25 percent of today's combat veterans who visit San Diego's VA Medical Center suffer from post-traumatic stress.

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