Stroke Takes Away Brain Functions by 8 Years, Says New Study

In a precise and revealing study, researchers found that a stroke can reduce brain functions by 8 years affecting the elderly people aged 65 or more.

Based on the data from 4,900 black and white adults, a team from the University of Michigan and the VA Centre for Clinical Management Research has come out with the finding that the results could vary in blacks and whites but certainly affects both reducing their brain functions.

About 7.5 % of black participants and 6.7 % of white participants, with ho past or recent history of stroke, dementia or other brain cognitive problems but suffered a stroke during the 1998 and 2012 period were screened for the first enrollement survey in 1998 and followed up in 2012 to observe the changes in cognitive test scores. The revelations made it clear that both blacks and whites seniors who suffered stroke were the worst affected in terms of brain functions.

Deborah Levine

Though the stroke effect was similar in both blacks and whites, the rate of cognitive decline in the blacks was found to be twice that of non-Hispanic whites in the US. The results showed that the effect remains the same and the so-called mysterious differences in memory and cognition in races are more to do with the lifestyle and vocation they pursued.

Underscoring the need to prevent a stroke, the researchers said special attention should be paid to both blacks and whites in suffering cognitive decline as they age, said Deborah Levine, lead author of the study, in their paper to be published in the July issue of Stroke.

In her earlier research, Deborah Levine maintained that stroke not only attacks the brain but also hastens its decline compared to those of the same age without a stroke. The so-called “brain games” and other cognitive therapies have been only modestly improved certain domains of cognition, she noted in her interview with Medpage last year.

Stressing the need for rehabilitation therapies, or other measures such as blood pressure control or better diabetes control, Levine said the focus should be on avoiding a stroke. Global cognition drops sharply at the time of the stroke (-0.10 points on the Six-Item Screener versus those without a stroke, P=0.001) and then an accelerated loss of 0.06 points per year compared with a presumably test learning-related gain of 0.02 per year among those without a stroke (P<0.001).

Though executive function didn’t drop immediately after stroke (P=0.78), there was a steep fall afterwards, she noted in her writings in the past.


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