A recent study found a correlation between youthful stroke survivors (individuals under sixty years old) who develop seizures and an increase in the risk of developing dementia. The increase is not a marginal one, in fact, the increased risk is double in patients who develop seizures. The question is, would it be prudent to take a proactive approach to seizure prevention in stroke patients to reduce the risk of developing dementia?
The results of this study suggest that physicians from all specialties should aim to work together to help understand the correlation between seizures and dementia. In this way, better options and treatments can be explored and utilized.
Stroke Patients Are Getting Younger
Individuals under the age of sixty are experiencing strokes in greater numbers than ever before. There are many different factors that can lead to stroke. However, an unhealthy lifestyle is a major contributing factor. The effects of increasingly unhealthy lifestyles are catching up with the population.
People are carrying around more excess weight than ever before. In fact, obesity has doubled in 73 countries since 1980. Obesity is a major contributing factor when it comes to the risk of having a stroke. Many people’s diets are largely composed of unhealthy ingredients. A major part of the population overindulges in processed and refined foods on a daily basis. Fewer and fewer people are cooking at home, opting instead to eat fast food because it is convenient. While fast food is not inherently bad, the majority of it is unhealthy and riddled with excess saturated fats, sugars, and refined flours. All of these issues, coupled with a propensity to eat far more than our bodies need to maintain healthy function, have led to excessive weight gain for many individuals.
People are also getting a lot less exercise than they need to burn the calories they are consuming. Most people do not walk the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended 10,000 steps a day. This could be for any number of reasons. Some people have a very busy lifestyle, and they have a very difficult time fitting in the exercise they need. For some individuals, the environment that they live in is not conducive to exercising in a way that will help increase cardiovascular function and maintain muscle mass.
All of these issues, coupled with an increase in environmental pollution, have taken a toll on people’s health. Poor health can oftentimes lead to an increase in the incidence of strokes in younger individuals. Individuals who experience a stroke are at risk of developing seizures. The risk of developing seizures is much higher if you are a young stroke patient. No one really knows why this is, but it is cause for action.
Because there is an increased chance of developing dementia when individuals experience seizures, it is thought that it may be prudent to administer anti-seizure drugs to young stroke survivors as a precaution. The goal would be to prevent the onset of any seizure beforehand.
It may be possible to detect if patients are at risk for seizures by using electroencephalography (EEG). However, whether this screening could potentially reduce the risk of developing dementia still needs further verification. While correlations between the epileptiform discharge detected with an EEG and cognitive impairment have been determined in studies using animals, further studies are needed to verify the link in humans. It is up to the physicians who treat the different aspects of the condition to work together to establish the link.