Researchers Say Absentmindedness Indicates Earlier Warning Signs of Silent Strokes

Adults who often lose their track of thought or frequently become sidetracked may in fact be showing early signs of ‘silent stroke’, a cerebral small vessel disease, according to a recent study.

Researchers revealed that people with damage to the brain’s white matter due to silent stroke reported poor attentiveness and being distracted quite often on daily tasks. However, on formal assessments of executive function and attention, nearly 50% of individuals identified with damage to the white matter scored within the normal range.

In most cases, individuals who encountered silent stroke or at an increased risk observed a significant difference in their ability to stay focused, even before the symptoms could be detected through a neuropsychological test, according to the researchers whose findings are detailed in a paper published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Lead author Ayan Dey said that if an individual feels this may be the case, concerns must be brought to a healthcare professional, especially if he/she is at higher risk of stroke and heart disease or has health condition.

Cerebral small vessel disease, one of the most common neurological disorders linked to aging, is type of stroke that changes the blood flow in the brain, leading to the development of vascular dementia and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Apart from the lack of obvious symptoms, such disease causes damage to the brain’s white matter which can further cause memory and cognitive issues.

The study involved 54 adults who had at least one risk factor for a stroke such as advanced age above 75, a history of smoking, high blood pressure, past mini strokes, high cholesterol, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Through MRI scans of these participants, the researchers examined brain tissue damage, particularly in relation to white matter for determining injuries caused by cerebral small vessel disease. In addition, the participants took part in various neurocognitive questionnaires and tests that helped examined their attention and executive function.

In their following research, the team will analyze electrical brain activity and functional brain imaging from participants to explore the differences in brain networks. The researchers hope to find why certain individuals can perform well on cognitive tests, in spite of damage to the brain.

Author: Priyanka Bhattacharjee

Priyanka Bhattacharjee is a seasoned research professional, with an insatiable quest for handling complex assignments, based on both pure-play consulting and market-research in the pharmaceuticals and healthcare domain. With over five years of experience, she is well-acknowledged in her field of handling critical research assignments and writing thematic papers. She regularly writes opinion pieces for various online news portals and magazines on a wide range of topics. Having the unique capacity of joining the dots, Priyanka’s exceptional communication skills makes her a pro at handling strategic clients, encompassing multiple domains of industry and business. While not at work, she is an ardent reader of books, pursues music and social activities such as teaching the underprivileged and visiting the old at elderly care centers.