A study appearing in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association, indicates that individuals with a level of high education who report memory lapses may have a higher risk of stroke. A news release issued by the American Heart Association states that during the Rotterdam Study (1990-93 and 2001-01), a total of 9,152 participants aged 55 years or older completed a subjective memory complaints questionnaire and took the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

By 2012, the release says, 1,134 strokes occurred. Among the strokes, 663 were ischemic, 99 were hemorrhagic, and 372 were unspecified. The release adds that subjective memory complaints were independently linked to a higher risk of stroke. However, a higher MMSE score was not. Additionally, the results suggest that individuals with memory complaints exhibited a 39% higher risk of stroke if they also had a higher level of education. The release also states that the finding reflects a link between subjective memory complaints and Alzheimer’s disease among highly educated individuals.

Arfan Ikram, MD, associate professor of neuroepidemiology at Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands, explains in the release, “Given the role of education in revealing subjective memory complaints, we investigated the same association but in three separate groups: low education, medium education, and high education.”

Ikram adds that the researchers have found that the link between memory complaints and stroke was strongest among individuals with the highest education.

“If in future research we can confirm this, then I would like to assess whether people who complain about changes in their memory should be considered primary targets for further risk assessment and prevention of stroke,” Ikram says.

The release notes that the researchers categorized level of education into three groups. The first group was “low education,” meaning primary education only; “intermediate education,” primary education in addition to some higher education, lower vocational education, intermediate vocational education, or general secondary education; and “high education,” meaning higher vocational education or university training.

The study’s results reportedly applied evenly to men and women. Ikram adds that since 95% of study participants were Caucasians living in Rotterdam, future research should encompass more racially diverse groups.

[Source(s): Science Daily, American Heart Association]