Be Well: Can one head injury lead to Alzheimer’s?

Can one head injury lead to Alzheimer’s?

New research suggests one moderate to severe head injury can disrupt the proteins that regulate an enzyme associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School first measured protein levels in the brains of mice two days after they had incurred moderate to severe head trauma. The researchers found a reduction in the levels of two proteins, GGA1 and GGA3, and an increased level of the enzyme BACE1, which has previously been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Advertisement—Continue Reading Below

Researchers analyzed Alzheimer’s patients’ brain tissue and found the same protein reduction and enzyme level increase the mice had experienced.

The findings suggest that a single brain injury could significantly increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to the researchers.

BOTTOM LINE: A moderate to severe head injury can disrupt the proteins that regulate an enzyme associated with Alzheimer’s.

CAUTIONS: The study does not look at the long-term effects of enzyme disruption after a traumatic brain injury and whether it leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of Neuroscience, July issue

The pros and cons of emergency CT scans

Coronary CT angiography, or CT scans, may cut patients’ wait time in the hospital, but are more expensive and may not be more accurate in detecting heart attacks, a new study suggests.

Researchers at multiple medical centers across the nation, including Massachusetts General Hospital, randomly assigned a total of 1,000 patients who had suffered chest pain and were ages 40 to 74 to either receive a CT scan or the hospital’s standard evaluation, such as a stress test. All the patients had gone to the hospital for chest pain but had shown no signs of a heart attack through initial electrocardiograms and blood tests.

Patients who were given a CT scan spent on average 23 hours in the hospital, compared to the other patients who spent an average of 30 hours. A majority of the CT patients were sent home after rather than being admitted .

Also, patients given the CT scan paid on average $200 more for testing, since they were more likely to undergo follow-up tests.

The results showed that both groups had the same rate of heart disease detected .

BOTTOM LINE: A CT scan may cut time spent at a hospital, but could be more expensive and may not be more accurate in detecting heart attacks.

CAUTIONS: The physicians knew which intervention patients had received and therefore may have discharged a patient from the hospital earlier because of a bias toward the CT scan.

WHERE TO FIND IT: New England Journal of Medicine, July

Lara Salahi

Share