People who have a stroke are about twice as likely to develop dementia as people who don’t have a stroke, according to a review of studies involving 3.2 million people—mostly older adults—worldwide. The analysis, conducted by the University of Exeter Medical School in England and the University of Michigan, didn’t report whether risk of dementia was higher for ischemic strokes (the most common kind, caused by a blood clot) or hemorrhagic strokes (caused by an artery bleeding in the brain).
The findings were published in the November 2018 issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
Researchers hope to determine whether differences in post-stroke care and lifestyle changes can lower dementia risk in people who’ve had a stroke.
What you should do
Stroke prevention may decrease your risk for dementia. Prevent a stroke by getting high blood pressure and diabetes under control, engaging in regular physical activity, consuming heart-healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. If you’ve already had a stroke, follow the same advice as well as advice from your doctor to prevent a second stroke, which may include taking medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes as well as an antiplatelet medication (such as aspirin) or an anticoagulant drug (such as warfarin).
This article first appeared in the December 2018 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.