Medical and environmental risk factors associated with frontotemporal dementia: a case-control study in a veteran population

Alzheimers Dement. 2012 May;8(3):204-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2011.03.011. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Background: Compared with other major dementias, very little is known about the medical and environmental risk factors associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In this study, we evaluated medical and environmental disorders associated with FTD in a veteran population.

Methods: The medical records of 845 consecutive veterans who were evaluated for cognitive and/or behavioral complaints at a cognitive disorders clinic in an academic medical center between March 1, 2003, and June 30, 2008, were reviewed and 554 patients received a diagnosis of dementia. Medical disorders and environmental risk factors in 63 patients with behavioral variant of FTD were compared with 491 patients with non-FTD dementias.

Results: The prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) was significantly greater in patients with FTD versus those with non-FTD dementias (12.7% vs 3.5%; P < .05). The FTD group also had a lower prevalence of heart disease (19.0% vs 36.7%; P < .05) and cerebrovascular diseases (12.7% vs 26.1%; P < .05), although the prevalence of vascular risk factors was comparable between FTD and non-FTD dementia groups: hypertension (65.1% vs 68.2%), diabetes (31.7% vs 26.9%), hyperlipidemia (42.9% vs 48.9%), and tobacco use (7.9% vs 8.8%; P > .05 for all). In multivariate analysis, the risk for FTD was increased in patients with TBI (OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 1.6-11.8). The risk for FTD was marginally decreased in patients with heart disease (OR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.3-0.96).

Conclusions: In a clinical sample of veterans, risk of FTD was increased in patients with TBI and marginally decreased in patients with heart disease. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these associations temporally and to identify their underlying mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / mortality
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / psychology*
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data