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Even tiny brain lesions signal future stroke risk

A new study conducted by Dr Gwen Windham, an associate professor of geriatrics at the University of Mississippi in The US have revealed that the presence of small injured areas or lesions in the brain may suggest an elevated risk of stroke or stroke-related death among otherwise normal people.

Dr Windham observed that these findings indicate that even tiny lesions on brain imaging ought to be taken seriously as early pathology suggesting an increased risk of stroke even if there are no other symptoms.” Of course, individuals with both small and large lesions are at a clearly greater risk of being hit by a stroke.

“Although it would be necessary to replicate these findings across different populations, the study does imply that even miniscule lesions are relevant clinically. To understand what causes these little injuries and how to prevent them we would need to dig deeper,” said the lead author of the study, which appeared in the July 7 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The report is based on an Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study that involved more than 1,800 adults aged 50 to 73. None of these subjects who were followed for an average of 14.5 years had any prior history of stroke. MRIs were used to spot lesions.

The results showed that people with small lesions were three times more likely to have or die from strokes as compared to those who didn’t. People with both small and large lesions are at seven to eight times higher risk.

The chairman of neurology at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine Dr Ralph Sacco, noted that the study contributes to the mounting evidence indicating that stroke and death may be implicit in silent changes that happen in the brain.”

Quite often MRIs pick up silent strokes in older people. However, this study focused on a younger group of individuals. It is to be noted that silent stroke and other harmful alterations in the brain are more prevalent among smokers and people who suffer from hypertension and diabetes.

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