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High risk factors for stroke linked to some cognitive decline


April 13, 2011 - Washington

A new study has warned that older adults at risk for stroke have significantly increased risk for some types of cognitive decline.

The study, which involved 73 older women and men who had not had a stroke and did not have Dementia, showed that participants had substantially greater risk for decline in some aspects of "executive function" - specifically in verbal fluency and the ability to ignore irrelevant information. Verbal memory and short term, or "working memory," were not affected.

They assessed participants' risk for coronary artery disease using the widely used Framingham Coronary Risk Score, which incorporates coronary artery disease risk factors - age, cholesterol levels, Blood Pressure, presence of Diabetes, and smoking status - to generate a person's risk of stroke within 10 years.

The participants underwent testing for executive function - the ability to engage in goal-directed behavior, such as remaining attentive, multitasking, thinking flexibly, inhibiting attention to irrelevant sensory information and generating ideas - and memory, through a series of neuropsychological tests.

The results showed that those at a higher risk for stroke performed worse on verbal fluency, a test designed to measure a person's ability to quickly generate verbal information. It also showed that higher risk for stroke, as well as age, accounted for a significant portion of decline in the ability to ignore irrelevant information.

"The findings reveal that if you control for age, education and gender, participants with higher risk for stroke perform significantly more poorly in verbal fluency and in inhibition, even when controlling for a history of stroke and Dementia," said the lead author of the study, Jonathan Gooblar, a research associate in the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.

The finding was recently reported in a poster session at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting.

ANI

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