Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Stroke Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Dementia Seen in More Than 25% of Stroke Survivors

continued...

Desmond, assistant professor of pathology and neurology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, says that his study may actually have underestimated the number of patients who develop dementia after stroke. One reason is that the study used a conservative definition of dementia. Another reason is that because dementia indicates that the person suffered a more severe stroke, many patients with dementia died before they could be tested.

The study analyzed stroke patients at a community health center in northern Manhattan. It found three types of risk factors for dementia after stroke. The first type depended on the part of the brain affected by the stroke: people who had damage to the left side of the brain, which controls language functions and abstract thinking, were more likely to suffer dementia.

The second type depended on a person's risk factors for severe stroke: patients with diabetes or a prior stroke had increased risk of dementia. The third type of risk depended on patient factors: ethnicity, education, and old age were the major factors involved.

Why would education be a risk? Desmond points to studies showing that education and a stimulating childhood environment increases the number of connections between brain cells. He suggests that when a stroke hits, these extra connections may help educated people compensate better.

Stroke expert Charles P. Warlow, FRCP, professor of medical neurology at University of Edinburgh in Scotland, warns that dementia is not something that occurs overnight, even in stroke patients. In an interview with WebMD, Warlow says that a stroke may exacerbate underlying dementia as well as cause it.

"The rate of dementia in any study depends on how you define it -- it is not something that just happens one day," he says. "Somebody can have a stroke and as a consequence of the stoke has some memory problem. Now how does that qualify as dementia? The time at which you blow the whistle and say 'Now this person has dementia' varies. There are plenty of stroke patients who are demented, and probably the stroke itself has a lot to do with it. The interesting thing is whether stroke accelerates dementia that is going on already."

The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease (AD), and the current study finds a link to stroke: about a third of the patients who had dementia after stroke also had AD. "There is a closer link between vascular disease and AD than we have been thinking lately," says Marler. He says his agency is working to increase collaboration between stroke and AD researchers.

Today on WebMD

brain illustration stroke
Know these 5 signs.
brain scans
Test your stroke smarts.
 
woman with migraine
Is there a link?
brain scan
Get the facts.
 
brain scans
Quiz
woman with migraine
Article
 
brain scan
Article
headache
Video
 
senior man stretching pre workout
Article
Floor level view of therapist helping stroke patie
Article
 
concerned woman
Article
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
SLIDESHOW