Alcohol-induced loss of consciousness linked to higher dementia risk

People who report loss of consciousness due to alcohol consumption have a 2-fold increased risk of dementia compared with individuals who do not report loss consciousness, according to an analysis from Scandinavia.

The study combined cohorts from the UK, France, Sweden and Finland to create a total study population of 131,415 people aged 18 – 77 (mean 43) and free of dementia at baseline (between 1986 and 2012). Dementia diagnoses were monitored during an average of 14.4 years’ follow up. Heavy alcohol consumption was defined as >14 units/week (as used in the UK) and >21 units/week (the US definition).

1,081 cases of dementia were identified. After adjustment for potential confounders, the extra risk of a diagnosis was 16% for >14 units/week and 22% for >21 units/week. 96,591 participants provided information about loss of consciousness, of whom 10% reported lost consciousness due to alcohol in the previous year. Compared with controls, the risk of dementia almost tripled in men with loss of consciousness and almost doubled in women. The overall risk of early onset (<65 years) and late onset dementia more than doubled overall, with a 4-fold increase in the risk of vascular dementia. The excess risk of dementia could not be explained by 14 other alcohol-related conditions.

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