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U of R study suggests 1-in-2 over 60 experience “mini-strokes”

News out of the University of Rochester ( @urmcdiscoveries ) this week suggests that the key to understanding dementia and other cognitive degeneration over the age of 60 may be understanding trauma to the brain so slight as to be imperceptible when it happens. These events are known as “mini-strokes” (microinfarcts to their friends) and have previously been missed by traditional MRI, which is not sensitive enough to detect their passage. However:

Microinfarcts are far more common than previously understood; it is believed that about 50 percent of individuals over the age of 60 have experienced at least one mini-stroke. Studies have also correlated the presence of mini-strokes with the symptoms of dementia. An 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. This association has led researchers to believe that these mini-strokes may be key contributors to age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

When people think of “a stroke,” the thing they envision is anything but a subtle or imperceptible. And it is true that stroke events we’re more familiar with are sudden and life-altering events. But according to the article, any damage done to brain tissue as a result of a disruption of blood flow is considered a stroke. And these events can happen very slowly and very subtly. Up to several weeks, according to the research.

So now that you know this, just try not to think about it every time you get a headache, ok? Ok.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.