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Memory Problems May Indicate Stroke Risk

A decline in cognition or memory problems may indicate that an individual has a higher risk for stroke, according to neurological researchers.

“Finding ways to prevent stroke and identify people at risk for stroke are important public health problems,” said study author Abraham J. Letter of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“This study shows we might get a better idea of who is at high risk of stroke by including a couple simple tests when we are evaluating people who already have some stroke risk.”

For the study, researchers gave tests to people age 45 and older who had never had a stroke, then contacted them twice a year by phone for up to 4.5 years to determine whether they had suffered a stroke.

The average age of the participants was 67. Strokes were then confirmed by medical records. A total of 14,842 people took a verbal fluency test, measuring the brain’s executive functioning skills, and 17,851 people took a word recall memory test.

The study was part of a larger study called the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. During the study, 123 participants who had taken the verbal fluency test and 129 participants who had taken the memory test experienced a stroke.

Those who scored in the bottom 20 percent for verbal fluency were 3.6 times more likely to develop a stroke than those who scored in the top 20 percent.

For the memory test, those who scored in the bottom 20 percent were 3.5 times more likely to have a stroke than those in the top 20 percent.

The difference in stroke incidence rates between those with the bottom and top 20 percent of scores was 3.3 strokes per thousand person-years. In general, the differences remained after researchers adjusted for age, education, race and where participants lived.

At age 50, those who scored in the bottom 20 percent of the memory test were 9.4 times more likely to later have a stroke than those in the top 20 percent, but the difference was not as large at older ages.

The study on cognition and stroke will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s meeting in April.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Memory Problems May Indicate Stroke Risk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Memory Problems May Indicate Stroke Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/10/memory-problems-may-indicate-stroke-risk/23375.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.