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Research Shows Link Between TBI and Cardiovascular Disease

LOS ANGELES, California — In a startling revelation, an unexpected connection between TBI and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been discovered, adding a new dimension to the well-established long-term effects of traumatic brain injury on neurologic and psychiatric function, indicates a new publication on January 18, 2024.

The study sheds light on the elevated risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes in individuals with TBI for an extended period after the initial incident, urging the need for regular monitoring, as emphasized by senior author Ross Zafonte, DO, president of Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, Boston, and lead author Saef Izzy, MD, MBChB, a neurologist at the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts.

Zafonte and Izzy stated, “This work offers further evidence that individuals with TBI are at an elevated risk of unfavorable cardiovascular outcomes for an extended period following the initial incident; consequently, they should undergo regular monitoring.

The implications of this discovery are significant for healthcare practitioners, who now have an opportunity to implement strategies to mitigate cardiovascular disease risk in TBI patients. These strategies include weight management, adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and quitting smoking.

Leslie Croll, MD, an American Heart Association volunteer and assistant professor of clinical neurology at Temple University, emphasized the interplay between TBI, neurologic disease, psychiatric complications, and the cardiovascular system. She noted that a study on concussion survivors without preexisting diagnosis revealed a significantly higher incidence of cardiovascular, endocrinological, and neuropsychiatric comorbidities within five years after a TBI compared to healthy individuals matched for age, race, and sex without TBI exposure.

Croll expressed hope that future research would provide insights into the most beneficial cardiovascular disease monitoring and prevention measures for TBI patients. The newfound link underscores the need for a holistic approach to the care of individuals with traumatic brain injuries, taking into account not only neurologic and psychiatric aspects but also potential cardiovascular implications.

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