Simple test may help predict long-term outcome after stroke - Alzheimer's Society comment

A simple test taken within a week of a stroke may help predict how well people will have recovered up to three years later, according to a study published in the October 17 2018 online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

'We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die,' said study author Martin Dichgans, MD, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. 

For the study, 274 people in Germany and France who had a stroke were given the test, called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, within a week of the stroke. They were then divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills and those with cognitive impairment. Participants were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning and ability to complete daily living tasks six months later and then at one and three years after the stroke. Dichgans noted the test helped predict outcomes even when other factors such as the severity of the stroke were taken into account.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, commented:

'This small study suggests that a simple test could detect whether people who have had a stroke will have problems with memory and thinking. The early results give us important information about stroke recovery, but nobody in this study developed dementia so there’s nothing to suggest that this test can predict the disease.
 
'This link between stroke and cognitive decline is interesting as we know that having a stroke is one of the biggest risk factors for vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s Society researchers are currently hard at work investigating that relationship. Dementia is the only one of the top ten killers that we can’t cure, prevent or even slow down, so it’s vital we explore every avenue to better understand this devastating illness.'

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