People affected by stroke report that memory and thinking problems are amongst their greatest concerns. Stroke and vascular dementia are closely related, but traditionally have been studied as separate processes and this has delayed advances in knowledge. A more ‘joined-up’ study would help. Stroke patients are good at joining studies, and some blood vessel treatments might help protect thinking and memory in future.
What is the aim of this project?
A collaboration of experts in stroke and vascular dementia have worked with people affected by both diseases to create a program of work that answers fundamental questions: who will develop memory and thinking problems after stroke, why does this happen, how can we treat it?
What will happen during the project?
Many patients (about 2,000) who attend hospitals with a stroke or mini-stroke will be invited to join the study. Information will be collected about the patient, their health, the stroke, their thinking and memory will be assessed, and their relatives will be engaged too.
Short or longer assessments will be used at different stages after the stroke to avoid tiring the patient.
Information will be collected on a patient’s recovery, changing symptoms and thinking skills at 6-12 weeks after stroke and by post/ telephone annually to two years after stroke and beyond.
Routine brain scans of patients will be assessed, and in some patients, more detailed scans will be conducted, and blood pressure measurements, blood tests or genetic analysis will be undertaken to work out what affects a patient’s memory and thinking.
What difference could this research make?
The research should provide much better information on how many patients’ thinking and memory are affected after stroke, how to identify these patients, and to better understand how much of a recovery they will make. The research will help us understand blood vessel mechanisms better, advise patients, and plan health services. Patients in the study will be offered opportunities to join clinical trials as new treatments become ready for testing, to help avoid dementia in future.