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Aug 28, 2014 07:32 AM EDT

Cognitive Impairment Increases Stroke Risk, Study

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Cognitive Impairment Increases Stroke Risk, Study.
Cognitive Impairment Increases Stroke Risk, Study.
(Photo : Reuters)

People suffering from cognitive impairment face heightened risk of suffering a stroke than those with normal cognitive function, according to a new study by the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Given the projected substantial rise in the number of older people around the world, prevalence rates of cognitive impairment and stroke are expected to soar over the NEXT several decades, especially in high-income countries," said Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, Chair of the Department of Neurology, in a press release.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and is linked to the development and worsening of cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment and stroke are major contributors to disability.

For the study, the researchers in the United States, Taiwan and South Korea, analyzed data from 18 studies conducted in North America or Europe. The studies overall included 121,879 people with cognitive impairment, among whom 7799 later suffered strokes.

The researchers found that stroke risk was 39 percent higher among patients with cognitive impairment than those with normal cognitive function. "This risk increased to 64% when a broadly adopted definition of cognitive impairment was used," the authors wrote.

Blockage of blood vessels in the brain (brain infarcts), atherosclerosis, inflammation and other vascular conditions lead to higher risk of stroke and cognitive impairment.

"Cognitive impairment should be more broadly recognized as a possible early clinical manifestation of cerebral infarction, so that timely management of vascular risk factors can be instituted to potentially prevent future stroke events and to avoid further deterioration of cognitive health," conclude the authors.

The finding is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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