Stroke and dementia


Roundup: A Stroke can Triple the Risk of Dementia; U.S. Premature Birth Rate is Rising; and More News

After a Stroke, Risk of Dementia Could Triple in the Following Year, Researchers Find

Research presented this week at the International Stroke Conference in Phoenix provides the strongest evidence yet that a stroke significantly raises a person's risk of dementia, particularly within the following year.

During the first 12 months, stroke survivors "faced a nearly threefold increased risk for dementia, compared to their peers who did not have strokes," states the American Heart Association in a news release.

Five years after the stroke, that risk of dementia decreased to 1.5 times. "The risk continued to decline over 20 years of follow-up, but remained higher for people who had strokes than for those who had not," the AHA said. The new study is considered preliminary until full results are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“Our findings show that stroke survivors are uniquely susceptible to dementia, and the risk can be up to 3 times higher in the first year after a stroke," said lead study author Raed Joundi, M.D., an assistant professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in a statement. "While the risk decreases over time, it remains elevated over the long-term. ”

Researchers based their findings on data from hospital admissions, emergency department visits and pharmacies prescribing medications for dementia across Ontario. They identified 180,940 people who recently had either an ischemic stroke, the most common type caused by a blood clot, or one caused by bleeding in the brain, called an intracerebral hemorrhage.

Over an average follow-up of nearly six years, almost 19 percent of those who had strokes developed dementia. Compared to the general population, dementia risk was 80 percent higher among those who had a stroke, with the risk jumping to nearly 150 percent higher in those who had a bleeding stroke. Risk was nearly 80 percent higher in stroke survivors compared to heart attack survivors.

An estimated 610,000 people suffer a first stroke each year, while an additional 185,000 have recurrent strokes, according to the AHA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 7 million people, 65 and older, in the U.S. had dementia in 2014, which could increase to nearly 14 million by 2060.

CDC: Premature Birth Rate is Rising in U.S., But There are No Clear Reasons

The number of “preterm” and “early-term” births in the U.S. – referring to babies delivered before 37 weeks and at 37 to 38 weeks -- increased between 2014 and 2022, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The preterm birth rate — babies delivered before 37 weeks of gestation (length of pregnancy) — rose 12 percent. Meanwhile, the early-term birth rate — births at 37 to 38 weeks of completed pregnancy — increased 20 percent.

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, which is referred to as gestational age. Babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are called preterm or premature. One factor affecting the rate of premature births is that more women are waiting to have babies until later in life. Giving birth past the age of 35 raises the risk of a preterm or early-term birth.

However, preterm births can be caused by a range of health conditions in the mother, including high blood pressure, blood clotting problems, diabetes, being underweight or obese during pregnancy, infection or inflammation, and problems with the uterus or placenta.

Preterm births are among the leading cause of infant deaths in the U.S. and globally, according to the March of Dimes and the World Health Organization.

The authors of the CDC's report wrote, "Gestational age is a strong predictor of short- and long-term morbidity and early mortality. Births delivered preterm are at the greatest risk of adverse outcomes, but risk is also elevated for early-term compared with full-term births. This report demonstrates a shift from 2014 through 2022 across gestational age categories …”

Gestational age is a strong predictor of short- and long-term morbidity and early mortality. Births delivered preterm are at the greatest risk of adverse outcomes, but risk is also elevated for early-term compared with full-term births (4,11–14). This report demonstrates a shift from 2014 through 2022 across gestational age categories

The CDC states that “preventing preterm birth remains a challenge because there are many causes of preterm birth, and because causes may be complex and not always well understood. ” Pregnant women can take important steps to help reduce their risk of preterm birth and improve their general health, the CDC adds. These steps are to

  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Get prenatal care as soon as you think you may be pregnant and throughout the pregnancy.
  • Seek medical attention for any warning signs or symptoms of preterm labor.
  • Talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider about what interventions and monitoring are available if you had a previous preterm birth.

NIH Finds ‘Notable Rise’ in Use of Complementary Pain Management Such as Yoga, Meditation and Massage Therapy

A new analysis by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found a "notable rise" in the proportion of U.S. adults using nonpharmaceutical methods for pain management -- such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy .

Overall, more than one-third of U.S. adults are using these alternative methods to supplement medical care, according to the analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers based their findings on data from the 2002, 2012, and 2022 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to evaluate changes in the use of seven complementary health approaches: Yoga, meditation, massage therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, naturopathy, and guided imagery/progressive muscle relaxation.

The use of yoga, meditation, and massage therapy saw  the most significant growth from 2002 to 2022, the NIH states. The use of yoga increased from 5 percent in 2002 to 15.8 percent in 2022. Meditation became the most used approach in 2022, with an increase from 7.5 percent in 2002 to 17.3 percent in 2022.

Among study participants using any of the complementary health approaches, the percentage reporting use any of them for pain management increased from 42.3 percent in 2002 to 49.2 percent in 2022.

The study concludes that the following factors play a role in the rising use of alternative methods for pain management:

1. Higher quality research supporting the efficacy of complementary health approaches.
2. The inclusion of these approaches in clinical practice guidelines for pain.
3. The expanded insurance coverage for approaches such as acupuncture, which has contributed to increased patient access.

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