At least 37% of patients develop dementia or memory loss after a brain stroke. A study conducted by neurologists at Apollo Group of Hospitals showed that after a stroke, 72% patients developed brain disorder, where 30% suffered from dementia and cognitive impairment consisted 42%.
The study group consisting of 50 patients - 32 men and 18 women with acute stroke - was evaluated at one week, 3 months and 12 months after the stroke. Doctors used a battery of tests: National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (or NIHSS) to gauge the severity of a stroke, checked cognitive status prior to stroke using SIC code and functional status by Barthel's index to measure performance in activities of daily living. These tests were repeated on subsequent visits. Besides, neuro-physical examination, CT scan was also done at one week and 12 months.
Of the 50 patients, 37 suffered from infarctions and 13 had haemorrhages. On subjecting the patients to memory tests, neurologists found 30% suffering from dementia and 42% with learning problems.
"The frequency of cognitive impairment was higher in elderly men with low education and those with suffering from haemorrhages and strokes at subcortical (portion of the brain immediately below the cerebral cortex) locations," said Dr PN Renjen, senior consultant neurologist at Apollo Hospital.
"Cognitive impairment soon after a stroke is extremely high and usually improves with time. Managing the modifiable risk factors like keeping blood pressure and sugars in control, curbing smoking, tobacco use and drugs and exercising regularly help," said Dr Vinit Suri, senior consultant neurologist at Apollo Hospital.
"Strokes are medical emergencies. Every minute counts. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Treatment within four hours or earlier can save people's lives and boost their chances of successful recovery," he said.
Strokes are the second leading cause of death for people above 60 years, and the fifth leading cause in those aged between 15 and 59. Each year, nearly six million people die from strokes.