Cognitive Impairment

November 2015: Reference: Mellon L, Brewer L, Hall P, Horgan F, Williams D, Hickey A on behalf of the ASPIRE-S study group (2015) Cognitive impairment six months after ischaemic stroke: A profile from the ASPIRE-S study. BMC Neurology 15, 31; DOI 10.1186/s12883-015-0288-2. Available at:

Background: Cognitive impairment commonly occurs in the acute phase post-stroke, but may persist with over half of all stroke survivors experiencing some form of long-term cognitive deficit. Recent evidence suggests that optimising secondary prevention adherence is a critical factor in preventing recurrent stroke and the incidence of stroke-related cognitive impairment and dementia. The aim of this study was to profile cognitive impairment of stroke survivors at six months, and to identify factors associated with cognitive impairment post-stroke, focusing on indicators of adequate secondary prevention and psychological function.

Methods: Participants were assessed at six months following an ischaemic stroke as part of the Action on Secondary Prevention Interventions and Rehabilitation in Stroke study (ASPIRE-S), which examined the secondary preventive and rehabilitative profile of patients in the community post-stroke. Cognitive impairment was measured using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).

Results: Two-hundred and fifty-six stroke patients were assessed at six months. Over half of the sample (56.6%) were found to have cognitive impairment, with significant associations between cognitive impairment and female sex (odds ratio (OR) = 1.6, 95% CI 1.01-2.57) and history of cerebrovascular disease (OR = 2.22, 95% CI 1.38-3.59). Treatment with antihypertensive medications (OR = .65, 95% CI .44-.96) and prescription of anticoagulant therapy (OR = .41, 95% CI .26-.68) were associated with reduced likelihood of cognitive impairment, however increasing number of total prescribed medications was moderately associated with poorer cognitive impairment (OR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.04-1.19).

Conclusions: Findings reveal levels of cognitive impairment at 6 months post-stroke that are concerning. Encouragingly, aspects of secondary prevention were identified that may be protective in reducing the incidence of cognitive impairment post-stroke. Neuropsychological rehabilitation post-stroke is also required as part of stroke rehabilitation models to meet the burden of post-stroke cognitive impairment.

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