Memory Loss in Senior Adults Caused by Silent Strokes?
A previous study showed that 11 percent of people aged 69 years who considered themselves stroke-free had indeed suffered at least one stroke according to MRI imaging studies of their brain. But a more recent study from the Columbia University Medical Center shows that the figure is definitely a lot higher.
A stroke is a serious condition wherein there is a rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance of blood supply in the brain. Neurons are very sensitive to oxygen levels, and they begin to die within 3 minutes when oxygen levels are very low. It had both short-term and long-term consequences, like one-sided or whole body paralysis, blindness, speech problems and memory deficits.
The recent study consist of 658 dementia-free people aged 65 and above, who are subjected to MRI scans and it shows that 25 percent of them (174 individuals) suffered from undiagnosed silent strokes. The participants were also subjected to memory tests, where silent-stroke sufferers got lower scores compared to the rest. Sizes of their hippocampus (memory center of the brain) are also measured, and results of memory tests were found not to be relevant to hippocampus size.
A silent stroke is so-named because it does not produce any outward symptoms. It affect parts of the brain that do not involves body movement or function (unlike speech areas or optic regions), therefore it becomes asymptomatic. But it still causes long-term consequences, and one of them is memory loss. It can only be diagnosed after an MRI imaging study of the brain, marked by presence of small clumps of dead brain cells.
It is estimated that silent strokes are five times more prevalent than symptomatic strokes. This means that preventing strokes, said by researchers, can be helpful in preventing memory problems in the future. In addition, people should take care of their cardiovascular health in order to preserve memory function and stay mentally healthy for long.
The results of the study will be available in the January 2012 edition of the journal Neurology.
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