Researchers have investigated whether a person’s risk of stroke can be predicted at an early stage. Which abnormalities indicate an impending event – and who is particularly at risk.
Every year around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a stroke. The risk is primarily determined by age, gender and concomitant diseases. A recent study by Dutch researchers now suggests that people long before their first stroke Show signs of it. So can the disease be predicted in the future?
For several years, researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam have followed people who completed voluntary physical and cognitive examinations every four years between 1990 and 2016:
- The cognitive tests included memory training and the measurement of reaction times.
- In the physical tests, participants had to evaluate their ability to master basic activities of daily living, including shopping, cooking, cleaning or managing finances.
Study: Stroke Signs Start Earlier Than Previously Thought
For the study, now published in the English-language journal “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry”, a total of data from more than 14,000 participants aged 45 and over was evaluated. During the study period, 1,662 participants already suffered a first stroke at an average age of 80 years.
The analysis showed that these stroke patients showed the first signs up to ten years before the disease. Above all, their cognitive performance declined significantly more than in people who did not have a stroke. The stroke patients experienced more rapid mental decline. Their ability to do everyday tasks was also reduced two to three years before the stroke.
The results are corroborated by observations from previous studies that found deterioration in cognitive abilities and everyday functioning four to six years before the stroke. According to the Dutch researchers, however, the mental signs can set in much earlier.
Stroke risk: those who are particularly at risk
According to the study, there are indications that three groups of people in particular are more likely to be affected by strokes: These include women, people with lower academic degrees and people with a gene that already has dementia is associated. After the stroke, the performance of these patients continued to deteriorate.
“The accelerated decline in cognition and daily performance before a stroke suggests that people with a future stroke suffer from an accumulation of damage within the brain years before the acute event,” said study author Dr. Alis Heshmatollah from Erasmus University in an interview with the Daily Mail.
Typical stroke symptoms at a glance
1. Visual disturbances: The restricted field of vision is typical. Those affected often overlook objects that are in their left field of vision. Spatial vision can also be affected. Double images and disorientation are the result.
2. Speech disorders: The person concerned speaks haltingly or choppily. Often syllables or letters are twisted. Total loss of speech is also possible.
3. Symptoms of paralysis and numbness: The paralysis mostly affects the facial muscles, but can extend over the entire side of the body. The cheek, mouth, or eyelids may droop. There is often numbness or tingling in the arm and leg.
4. a headache: Often times, a stroke causes bleeding in the brain. These can cause very severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
5. Dizziness and unsteady gait: Dizziness and a staggering gait are not sure signs of a stroke, but when combined with other symptoms, they can be warning signs.
Take warning signals seriously and take active countermeasures
According to the researchers, people at high risk of stroke could be identified if they show cognitive deterioration in middle adulthood and on an ongoing basis. The early warning signals should prompt targeted therapy. These include, for example, lifestyle adjustments (diet, exercise, smoking) or the use of medication.
One of the biggest stroke risk factors is, for example high blood pressure. If this is treated properly, the risk of stroke and dementia can be reduced.
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