Is Memory Loss a Sign of Future Stroke?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

The complexity of the brain is boundless.  Each day it seems, scientists uncover new findings that either raise new questions or broaden our perspective on how disease and cognition are inter-related.

According to a study from the University of Alabama, research subjects aged 45 and older, who scored poorly compared to their peers on a memory test, were about 3.5 times more likely to have a stroke in the next 5 years.

While the average age of the study participants was 67 years, the correlation between memory loss and a later stroke was especially strong at younger ages.  For example, at age 50, those who scored in the bottom 20% on the memory test were almost 10 times more likely to have a stroke in the next 5 years, compared to those who scored in the top 20%.

It is difficult to draw any concrete conclusions from this study about how, or why, poor memory performance might be a marker of pathology that increases risk for stroke.  However, each piece of evidence shapes the entire puzzle that must eventually be assembled. 

Knowing this relationship between memory performance and stroke risk will guide further thinking and move us toward a deeper understanding of brain health and function.

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