A study published in the American Heart Association Journal has found that the effects of a stroke ages the brain by almost eight years. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether racial differences in cognitive decline could be explained by differences in the frequency or impact of stroke between blacks and whites. Over 4,900 participants took part in the study between 1998–2010, each 65 or older.
Though the results of the study were inconclusive, researchers did observe something worth noting. Participants who suffered a stroke during the study’s 12-year timeframe lost, on average, eight years worth of brain function.
According to the American Heart Association, each year about 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks circulation to the brain, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. When that happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Abilities controlled by that area of the brain, such as memory and muscle control, are lost.
While many people recover fully after a stroke, almost two-thirds of stroke survivors suffer some level of disability. That means that even if a stroke doesn’t take your life, it could leave you disabled, including being paralyzed, or unable to speak or walk, and unable to live independently. While the numbers are staggering, 80% of strokes are preventable with diet and by living a healthy, physically active lifestyle.