Latest News » Forgetful memories could be indicators for stroke, according to new study

Frequent lapses in memory could be an indicator of stroke among more educated people.

New research points to frequent memory lapses among people with high levels of education as a likely red flag for stroke risk.

According to HealthDay News, the study examined over 9,100 participants across the Netherlands, each at least 55 years old. During the study period — which spanned between 1990 and 1993, and then again in 2000 and 2001 — more than 1,100 of the subjects ended up having a stroke. While the researchers did not establish a definitive cause-and-effect association between weakening memory support and likelihood for strokes, their findings did indicate that middle-aged and older people who suffer lapses in memory also exhibit a 39 percent greater risk for a stroke.

Similar conclusions have been reached in Alzheimer's research studies, which also found that memory problems among those with higher levels of education signaled a higher likelihood for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

"Given the role of education in revealing subjective memory complaints, we investigated the same association but in three separate groups: low education, medium education and high education," said Dr. Arfan Ikram, one of the study researchers, said in an official statement in the journal Stroke. "We found that the association of memory complaints with stroke was strongest among people with the highest education. If in future research we can confirm this, then I would like to assess whether people who complain about changes in their memory should be considered primary targets for further risk assessment and prevention of stroke."

While the researchers could not explain exactly why higher levels of education seem to correlate with greater stroke risk, Reuters notes one possibly theory stating that more highly-educated subjects exhibit greater amounts of "cognitive reserve," which might actually keep people from noticing increasing memory lapses until their stroke likelihood has grown too advanced.

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