Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A new MRI method may be able to pick up clues in stroke patients that can lead to future cognitive problems, new findings show.
This technique predicted three-fourths of dementia cases in patients who had suffered strokes, according to a study published Thursday in Stroke.
Strokes can cause small vessel disease, where tiny blood vessels are injured in the brain. This can harm the brain's ability to plan, organize and process information, leading to dementia. Previous tests have failed to properly identify this risk, which can be properly treated with early detection.
The researchers developed an advanced MRI examination device that uses diffusion tensor imaging to show the likelihood that thinking problems and dementia will accompany small vessel disease.
For the study, the researchers analyzed 99 patients at an average age of 68 with small vessel disease brought on by ischemic strokes. More than one-third of the patients were women and most were white. The patients all took part in the St. George's Cognition and Neuroimaging in Stroke study between 2007 and 2017 in London.
For three years, the patients received an annual MRI scan and for five years took an annual thinking test. During the study, 18 developed dementia through an average duration of three years and four months to onset.
The researchers say this advanced MRI method will be able to pinpoint dementia risk for patients within a five-year period.
"We have developed a useful tool for monitoring patients at risk of developing dementia and could target those who need early treatment," senior study author Rebecca A. Charlton, a researcher at the University of London, said in a press release.