Tags: mini | stroke | dementia

Undetected ‘Mini-Strokes’ Tied to Dementia

Monday, 24 Dec 2012 09:23 AM

Imperceptible “mini-strokes,” caused when blood flow is blocked to a small area of the brain, have been shown to cause brain damage and increase the odds of developing dementia.
The strokes, which are common in older adults, don’t cause noticeable symptoms like acute ischemic strokes — numbness, blurry vision, and slurred speech – and usually occur without notice.
But the new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, said they can cause prolonged periods of brain damage and result in cognitive impairment.
"Our research indicates that neurons are being lost as a result of delayed processes following a mini-stroke that may differ fundamentally from those of acute ischemic events," said lead researcher Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "This observation suggests that the therapeutic window to protect cells after these tiny strokes may extend to days and weeks after the initial injury."
New imaging techniques have allowed medical researchers to gain a better understanding of mini-strokes, also known as microinfarcts. As a result, recent studies have found they are far more common than previously thought, with estimates suggesting at least one strikes about 50 percent of individuals over the age of 60. Studies have also estimated 55 percent of individuals with mild dementia and upwards of 70 percent of individuals with more severe symptoms show evidence of past mini-strokes.
Nedergaard and her colleagues found that, in most instances, mini-strokes result in a prolonged period of damage to the brain.
"In most microinfarcts the injury is incomplete," said Nedergaard. "There is no scar tissue to separate the stroke site from the rest of the brain and the cells that would normally support the neurons may not function properly. As a result, the neurons at the site continue to slowly die like a smoldering fire.
“This suggests that, unlike acute ischemic strokes where the cell death occurs in the first 24 hours, there is a longer period in which we can medically intervene and stop the neuronal death that results from mini-strokes."

© HealthDay

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Imperceptible 'mini-strokes' have been shown to increase the odds of developing dementia.
Monday, 24 Dec 2012 09:23 AM
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