'Silent strokes' seen as major cause of memory loss in seniors
Dead brain cells are found in 25 percent of older adults
New research suggests that memory loss among the elderly may be due to
so-called "silent strokes," which may not cause any noticeable symptoms.
Common symptoms of stroke, such as facial paralysis, difficult in
walking and speaking, coupled with disorientation are not immediately
apparent in some patients.
The scans found that 174 of the participants had experienced silent strokes, and the investigators found that these seniors did not perform as well on the memory exams.
"The new aspect of this study of memory loss in the elderly is that it examines silent strokes and [brain] shrinkage simultaneously," study author Adam Brickman, of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center says.
Funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the study is slated for publication in the January 3 issue of the journal Neurology.
Researchers studied 658 men and women aged 65 and older, none of whom had a history of dementia. The test subjects underwent MRI brain scans, as well as testing to gauge their capacities in terms of memory, language skills, thinking speed and visual perception.
The scans found that 174 of the participants had experienced silent strokes, and the investigators found that these seniors did not perform as well on the memory exams. This finding held regardless of whether the part of the patient's brain responsible for memory (the hippocampus) was found to be relatively small or not.
"Given that conditions like Alzheimer's disease are defined mainly by memory problems, our results may lead to further insight into what causes symptoms and the development of new interventions for prevention," Brickman noted in the news release.
"Since silent strokes and the volume of the hippocampus appeared to be associated with memory loss separately in our study, our results also support stroke prevention as a means for staving off memory problems," he added.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Silent strokoes, memory loss, elderly
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