July 14, 2022

Seizures May Increase Dementia Risk for Young Stroke Survivors

Article published by PennState

Young stroke patients who have a seizure following their diagnosis are two and a half times more likely to develop dementia than patients who don’t experience seizures, according to a new study by Penn State College of Medicine researchers. They said their results warrant further study into whether monitoring and treating young stroke survivors — those 60 years old and younger — for seizures can slow or prevent dementia onset and progression.

Dementia, a neurocognitive disease involving memory loss and language and problem-solving deficits, affects approximately 3% of all stroke patients annually, and is associated with an increased likelihood of stroke recurrence and other complications, including death. Risk factors like diabetes and stroke characteristics have previously been used to predict patients at greatest risk for developing dementia. Since stroke survivors are treated for seizures at a rate greater than the general population, the research team sought to further explore whether having a seizure increased a stroke patient’s risk for developing dementia.

Dr. Alain Lekoubou Looti, assistant professor of neurology and principal author of the study, said that while prior studies have suggested a link between post-stroke seizures increased risk of dementia, they were smaller in scale and focused on the time period immediately following a stroke. The current study provides increased understanding by using a larger sample size and looking at seizure incidence for a longer period after the stroke.