Reduced Reflexes May Indicate Future Stroke

When a blood clot blocks an artery or when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted by a burst blood vessel, a person is said to have suffered a stroke. A stroke can cause the death of cells in the affected area of the brain, leading to brain damage. According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the leading cause of adult disability.

Research published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that it may be possible to identify otherwise healthy older adults at risk for stroke and death by screening for subtle, yet clinically detectable neurological abnormalities, such as reduced reflexes and an unstable posture.

Meanwhile, a report published this week in the journal Stroke found that about 10 percent of a group of over 2,000 apparently healthy study participants appear to have experienced a "silent stroke," or silent cerebral infarction. A "silent stroke" has no outward symptoms but can be seen via brain imaging techniques such as MRI. The study authors say the condition can be a risk factor for future strokes, or be an indication of progressive brain damage leading to long-term dementia.

Sudha Seshadri, investigator for The Framingham Heart Study and Boston University Department of Neurology associate professor, and Malaz Boustani, MD, research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, Inc., and Indiana University assistant professor of medicine, talk about the implications of these reports.

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