Incident stroke was associated with acute cognitive decline and a more rapid pace of cognitive decline over six years, according to a report published in the July 7 issue of JAMA. 

Senior author Virginia Wadley, PhD, and colleagues studied 23,572 participants aged 45 years or older without cognitive impairment during a median follow-up of 6.1 years. Of these subjects, 515 had a stroke. The researchers found that stroke was associated with acute decline in global cognition (0.10 points), new learning (1.80 points), and verbal memory (0.60 points). Compared with those who did not have a stroke, those who did have a stroke exhibited more rapid declines in global cognition (0.06 points per year faster) and executive function (0.63 points per year faster), but not in new learning and verbal memory, when compared with these measures before the stroke. The rate of incident cognitive impairment was significantly faster after a stroke than before. 

“Our findings highlight a need for long-term monitoring and follow-up care for stroke survivors, with a focus on the mounting potential for cognitive impairment in subsequent years.” Dr. Wadley said. “Therapies to support cognitive abilities should be a high priority. And, long-term cognitive abilities could be an important domain to evaluate in relation to initial stroke treatments.”

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