Functional and Cognitive Consequences of Silent Stroke Discovered Using Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in an Elderly Population

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To evaluate the prevalence of silent stroke and its associated consequences on physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning in an elderly population.

DESIGN

Population-based cross-sectional survey.

SETTING

The Memory and Morbidity in Augsburg Elderly project in the Augsburg region of southern Germany.

PARTICIPANTS

Two hundred sixty-seven community-dwelling persons aged 65 to 83.

MEASUREMENTS

The presence of silent stroke was determined using magnetic resonance imaging brain scan and a single question asking for physician-diagnosed stroke in each participant. The health effect of silent stroke was assessed using rating scales for self-perceived health status (36-item short-form health survey), activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental ADLs, cognitive function, and depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale).

RESULTS

Just fewer than 13% (12.7%) of participants were affected by silent stroke. Silent stroke was associated with a history of hypertension, heart surgery, and elevated C-reactive protein. Individuals with silent stroke showed impairments on the Mini-Mental State Examination test and in the cognitive domains of memory, procedural speed, and motor performance.

CONCLUSION

The presence of silent stroke has a considerable effect on cognitive performance in those affected. Determining the presence of silent stroke using brain imaging may contribute to identifying individuals at risk for developing gradual neurological deficits.

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