A screening test given to patients within a week of experiencing a stroke may help predict their recovery outcomes up to 3 years later, according to a recent study.
The study published recently in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, evaluated the use of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, administered to a group of patients from Germany and France who had experienced a stroke.
“We found that this test, which takes less than 10 minutes, can help predict whether people will have impaired thinking skills, problems that keep them from performing daily tasks such as bathing and dressing and even whether they will be more likely to die,” says study author Martin Dichgans, MD, of Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, in a a media release from the American Academy of Neurology.
“This test should be used to screen people with stroke and to counsel them and their families about long-term prognosis and also to identify those who would most benefit from interventions that could improve their outcomes.”
In the study, the 274 German and French participants were given the test, then were divided into two groups: those with no problems with thinking and memory skills, and those with cognitive impairment. The participants were tested for their thinking and memory skills, motor functioning, and ability to complete daily living tasks 6 months later and then at 1 and 3 years after the stroke.
The study found that those who had thinking problems within 1 week of the stroke were seven times more likely to die during the 3 years of the study than those who did not have thinking problems. The survival rate for those with thinking problems after 3 years was 83%, while the rate was 97% for those with no thinking problems early on.
Those with thinking problems on the first test were also five times more likely to have problems with their motor skills than those who did not have thinking problems early on. By 3 years after the stroke, 29% of those with thinking problems on the first test had problems with their motor skills, compared to 5% of those who did not have thinking problems early on.
Those with cognitive impairment were more than twice as likely to have problems completing their daily activities such as bathing and dressing, with 42% having problems compared to 13% 3 years after the stroke.
Those with cognitive impairment were five times more likely to continue having thinking problems 3 years after the stroke than the other group, the release explains.
Dichgans notes that the test helped predict outcomes even when other factors such as the severity of the stroke were taken into account.
A limitation of the study was that most of the people involved had relatively mild strokes, so more research is needed to determine whether the results apply to people with more severe strokes.
[Source(s): American Academy of Neurology, Science Daily]