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Study: Stroke May Accelerate Persistent Cognitive Decline

Strokes are always associated with the decline in cognizance weeks following the event. However, according to the latest study, the impact of the stroke can be more that simply the effect in cognitive decline. Over six years following a stroke attack, patients continue to suffer from a serious cognitive decline according to recent study published in JAMA medical journal. The study involved stroke survivors after six years.

Dr. Deborah Levine said, “We have known that stroke is associated with cognitive decline over a short term. We did not know whether a stroke is associated with declines in thinking speed and memory over the years after the event.” Dr. Levine is a lecturer at Ann Arbor VA Health System and the University of Michigan School. Approximately 800, 000 people in The United States of America experience a stroke each year. According to the study’s authors, in the US alone there were approximately 7 million stroke survivors in 2010.

The study authors explained, “Disability due to stroke is a major driver of the health burden and costs for families, health care systems, and public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Cognitive impairment after the stroke is a major contributor to this disability, and its prevalence has increased sharply in older adults.” Despite known societal impacts of stroke-related complications especially cognitive decline, it is not clear whether stroke survivors experience cognitive decline on a quicker rate as compared to the cognitive decline experienced before the stroke. The study involved 23, 572 people who were known to have no record of cognitive decline impairments. Those who participated in the study were 45 years of age and above from 2003 and 2007. For about 10 years, researchers tracked the participants cognitive functioning where changes were witnessed over time.

During that time, 515 of those who participated in the study survived a stroke. However, 23, 057 emerged unaffected. Those who survived the stroke, however, recorded faster cognitive impairment rates compared with their earlier records. Overall, accelerated and a persistent cognitive decline was associated with strokes, which were witnessed by declines in verbal memory and new learning.

Researchers have a strong belief that their findings would have a profound implication for any clinical practice, health care policies, and further research findings. They also recommended that in order to avert the rate at which cognitive decline affects stroke survivors, they should be closely monitored. This may take many years after the stroke, but it will be of help for not only their cognitive decline but also other complications that may be involved.

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