A recent scientific report has shown that more than half of U.S. adults who survive strokes develop cognitive impairments in the year that follows, with up to 1 in 3 survivors developing dementia within five years.
The report, published in the journal Stroke, was written by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.
The report emphasized that cognitive impairment is a common condition that is often underdiagnosed and underreported.
Cognitive impairment is a condition that affects a person’s memory, thinking, and behavior.
It can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as remembering important dates and appointments, and completing simple math problems.
Cognitive impairment can be a result of a stroke, which is when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, causing brain damage that affects a person’s ability to speak, move, and think.
According to the latest statistics from the American Heart Association, roughly 9.4 million U.S. adults – 3.6% of the population – report having had a stroke.
Cognitive issues may develop immediately following a stroke or years later.
The new report emphasizes the importance of screening stroke survivors for cognitive deficits during the initial hospitalization and assessing them for changes in cognitive skills over time, especially if a survivor experiences difficulty with daily life activities.
Up to 60% of stroke survivors experience cognitive impairment within the first year, most often within the first two weeks of their stroke.
For about 40% of survivors, the impairment is not severe enough to meet the criteria for dementia but still impacts their quality of life.
Up to 20% of survivors who experience mild cognitive impairment fully recover their cognitive function, usually within six months of a stroke.
The report notes that cognitive impairment after a stroke often is linked to other problems, including physical disabilities, sleep disorders, behavioral and personality changes, depression, and other neuropsychological changes.
Therefore, it is important for healthcare professionals to offer guidance to patients and caregivers regarding home safety, returning to work, and driving after having a stroke.
Stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, should be addressed to prevent another stroke and potential worsening of cognitive impairments, the report said.
The authors of the report also suggest that future research should address how cognitive impairments develop following a stroke and how other factors, such as infection and frailty, may play a role.
Best practices for cognitive screening after a stroke that take demographic, cultural, and linguistic factors into consideration are also needed.
The report’s authors emphasize that stroke survivors should be systematically evaluated for cognitive impairment so that treatment may begin as soon as possible after signs appear.
By detecting any potential cognitive impairment early on, stroke survivors can receive the appropriate care and support to help maintain their quality of life.
This new report is an important step in increasing awareness of the link between stroke and cognitive impairment and promoting better screening and treatment for those affected.
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The report was published in Stroke.
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