Severe memory loss linked to fatal strokes

Washington, Feb 2: People who died after a stroke had severe memory loss in the years before stroke, compared to people who survived the stroke or people who didn’t have a stroke, says a new study.

“People who die after stroke may have worse underlying disease prior to stroke, said M. Maria Glymour, senior study author and assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“This suggests early disease is accumulating and that something is happening to these people before they are diagnosed with clinical stroke,” Glymour added.

“We’re most surprised that people who died after strokes had such sharp memory declines years before stroke onset,” said Qianyi Wang, Glymor’s graduate student at Harvard, who led the study, according to a university statement.

Researchers examined 11,814 people aged 50 years and older every two years for signs of declining memory. Study participants were stroke-free at enrollment and were followed up to 10 years. They continued in the study if they survived a stroke.

The study reported 1,820 strokes, including 364 individuals who died after stroke but before the next memory assessment. People who survived had worse average memory even before the stroke compared to similar individuals who never had a stroke during follow-up.

At the time of stroke, memory function dropped an average 0.321 points. This difference is about the same as the average memory decline associated with growing 4.1 years older among those who remained stroke free.

Because of the large stroke-related declines, memory impairment was common among stroke survivors.