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New Clues to Memory Loss

Silent Strokes, Brain Shrinkage Both Linked With Memory Loss in Older Adults

Strokes and Memory: Perspective

"Given the near universal interest in preserving cognitive function in late life, and the epidemic of fear of Alzheimer's disease, these findings suggest possible approaches to early identification and prevention," says Richard B. Lipton, MD, director of the division of cognitive aging and dementia at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

"Broadly, these findings, along with the findings of others, suggest that modifying cardiovascular risk factors and preventing stroke may contribute to the prevention of memory decline and perhaps delay or prevent the onset of dementia."

Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD, co-leader of the Rush University Medical Center's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center's Clinical Core and associate professor of neurological sciences, agrees. She reviewed the findings.

Doctors should aggressively manage vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure to prevent cognitive decline, she says.

Research in the area is ongoing, Lipton says.


Strokes and Memory: What to Do

"What we are showing over and over is the significant contribution of vascular disease to cognitive function in older adults," Brickman says. The silent strokes are potentially preventable, he says.

He advises people to maintain their blood vessel health by eating a healthy diet and taking medication for diabetes and high blood pressure, if needed.

Doctors should consider ordering an MRI for older adults with substantial vascular risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, Brickman says.

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