Each year, nearly 800,000 Americans experience a stroke, and for survivors, cognitive decline including memory and thinking speed, is a major cause of disability. Many patients experience these declines immediately after a stroke, but a new study examined whether cognitive decline continues several years after the initial stroke.
Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor examined changes in cognitive function in more than 23,000 individuals who were 45 years of age or older. All participants were free of cognitive impairment at the start of the study. Memory and other measures of cognitive function were recorded at the beginning and at regular intervals throughout a six year follow up period. 515 participants experienced a stroke during the study, the rest remained stroke free.
Results found that stroke survivors had a faster rate of cognitive decline after stroke compared with the pre-stroke rate. Stroke was associated with an early decline in cognitive function and also accelerated, persistent cognitive decline over the next six years.