“Silent Strokes” Lead to Memory Loss in Elderly

January 5, 2012

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New research links “silent strokes”—small spots of dead brain cells, found in about 1 of 4 older adults—to memory loss in the elderly. “The new aspect of this study of memory loss in the elderly is that it examines silent strokes and hippocampal shrinkage simultaneously,” explained researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center in the January 3 Neurology. For the study, 658 people aged 65 and older and free of dementia were given MRI brain scans and tests that measured memory, language, speed at processing information, and visual perception. A total of 174 of the participants had silent strokes.

The study found people with silent strokes scored worse on memory tests than those without silent strokes.

“Given that conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are defined mainly by memory problems, our results may lead to further insight into what causes symptoms and the development of new interventions for prevention…. Our results also support stroke prevention as a means for staving off memory problems,” said the researchers.

Read more about recent research on the relationship between stroke and cognitive decline in Psychiatric News.

Source: American Psychiatric Association

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