WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Many adults whose parents
suffered a stroke before age 65 experience vascular changes and
brain aging in middle age that may precede a stroke, a new study
It included nearly 1,300 participants with an average age of 61
who underwent MRI brain scans to assess their brain health,
including total brain volume, the volume of white matter lesions
and other signs of aging or damage to brain tissue.
The participants also underwent tests to assess various mental
abilities, including verbal memory, abstract reasoning, verbal
learning and visuospatial memory, which is the ability to recall
objects presented visually.
The study was to be presented Wednesday at the American Stroke
Association meeting in New Orleans.
Nearly 10 percent of the participants had one or both parents
who suffered a stroke before age 65. Strokes occur when blood flow
to the brain ceases.
The scans showed these offspring had a higher volume of white
matter lesions, equivalent to a difference of nearly three years in
brain age, researchers said in an association news release.
A follow-up of about six years found they were also the most
likely to perform poorly on tests of visuospatial memory and were
more likely to have a worsening of executive functioning, which
controls attention and the ability to plan.
However, having a parent who suffered a stroke before age 65 did
not affect a person's total brain volume or verbal memory, abstract
reasoning and verbal learning.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more