Backing up previous studies that have found a relationship between stroke and dementia, new findings published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association reveal that people who have had a stroke are twice as likely to experience a decline in the brain’s cognitive abilities, reports the University of Exeter.
For the large-scale study, researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School reviewed data from 1.9 million people with a history of stroke and 1.3 million who suffered a stroke during the study period.
Scientists found that a history of stroke increases individuals’ risk for dementia by about 70 percent, while a recent stroke doubles the risk. (Researchers believe that certain stroke characteristics, such as the location and extent of brain damage, might serve to explain the difference in dementia risk observed between studies.)
Still, a vast majority of folks who have strokes don’t develop dementia, which is why researchers must also look at how poststroke care and lifestyle interventions might help prevent such cognitive decline.
“Around a third of dementia cases are thought to be potentially preventable, though this estimate does not take into account the risk associated with stroke,” said David Llewellyn, PhD, a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School. “Our findings indicate that this figure could be even higher and reinforce the importance of protecting the blood supply to the brain when attempting to reduce the global burden of dementia.”
In addition, further inquiries are needed to determine how factors such as ethnicity and education affect dementia risk following a stroke, researchers said.
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