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Cognitive Impairment in Transient Ischemic Attack Patients: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background: Although by definition a transient ischemic attack (TIA) lasts less than 24 h, many patients experience cognitive complaints beyond focal symptom resolution. However, their prevalence, causes and profile are unclear. We therefore performed a systematic review on cognitive impairment after TIA. Summary: Medline and Embase were searched for relevant studies. Risk of bias was assessed, and data synthesis was performed according to the severity of cognitive impairment. Thirteen studies were included, with considerable heterogeneity concerning methods and timing of cognitive testing. Confounding, detection bias and attrition were the main causes of a high risk of bias in several studies. The prevalence of post-TIA mild cognitive impairment ranged from 29 to 68%. Severe cognitive impairment was found in 8-22% of patients. Studies using a cognitive screening instrument and those performed shortly after TIA or several years later, reported the highest frequencies of impairment. Patients evaluated with a screening tool were substantially older than those who underwent a full neuropsychological assessment (weighted mean age difference 10.9 years). Based on limited data, the post-TIA cognitive profile showed prominent executive function deficits. Insufficient data refrained us from drawing conclusions on causality. The few studies that reported neuroimaging results found a minor correlation with cognitive impairment. Key Messages: Mild cognitive impairment is present in more than a third of the TIA patients and has a profile comparable with vascular cognitive impairment. Reported rates of post-TIA cognitive impairment are highly variable and higher frequencies are found with cognitive screening tools. Considerable heterogeneity and insufficient data limit further conclusions about potential causative factors.

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Most cited references 42

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Silent brain infarcts and the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

Silent brain infarcts are frequently seen on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in healthy elderly people and may be associated with dementia and cognitive decline. We studied the association between silent brain infarcts and the risk of dementia and cognitive decline in 1015 participants of the prospective, population-based Rotterdam Scan Study, who were 60 to 90 years of age and free of dementia and stroke at base line. Participants underwent neuropsychological testing and cerebral MRI at base line in 1995 to 1996 and again in 1999 to 2000 and were monitored for dementia throughout the study period. We performed Cox proportional-hazards and multiple linear-regression analyses, adjusted for age, sex, and level of education and for the presence or absence of subcortical atrophy and white-matter lesions. During 3697 person-years of follow-up (mean per person, 3.6 years), dementia developed in 30 of the 1015 participants. The presence of silent brain infarcts at base line more than doubled the risk of dementia (hazard ratio, 2.26; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.09 to 4.70). The presence of silent brain infarcts on the base-line MRI was associated with worse performance on neuropsychological tests and a steeper decline in global cognitive function. Silent thalamic infarcts were associated with a decline in memory performance, and nonthalamic infarcts with a decline in psychomotor speed. When participants with silent brain infarcts at base line were subdivided into those with and those without additional infarcts at follow-up, the decline in cognitive function was restricted to those with additional silent infarcts. Elderly people with silent brain infarcts have an increased risk of dementia and a steeper decline in cognitive function than those without such lesions. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke-Canadian Stroke Network vascular cognitive impairment harmonization standards.

One in 3 individuals will experience a stroke, dementia or both. Moreover, twice as many individuals will have cognitive impairment short of dementia as either stroke or dementia. The commonly used stroke scales do not measure cognition, while dementia criteria focus on the late stages of cognitive impairment, and are heavily biased toward the diagnosis of Alzheimer disease. No commonly agreed standards exist for identifying and describing individuals with cognitive impairment, particularly in the early stages, and especially with cognitive impairment related to vascular factors, or vascular cognitive impairment. The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and the Canadian Stroke Network (CSN) convened researchers in clinical diagnosis, epidemiology, neuropsychology, brain imaging, neuropathology, experimental models, biomarkers, genetics, and clinical trials to recommend minimum, common, clinical and research standards for the description and study of vascular cognitive impairment. The results of these discussions are reported herein. The development of common standards represents a first step in a process of use, validation and refinement. Using the same standards will help identify individuals in the early stages of cognitive impairment, will make studies comparable, and by integrating knowledge, will accelerate the pace of progress.
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Silent brain infarcts: a systematic review.

As the availability and quality of imaging techniques improve, doctors are identifying more patients with no history of transient ischaemic attack or stroke in whom imaging shows brain infarcts. Until recently, little was known about the relevance of these lesions. In this systematic review, we give an overview of the frequency, causes, and consequences of MRI-defined silent brain infarcts, which are detected in 20% of healthy elderly people and up to 50% of patients in selected series. Most infarcts are lacunes, of which hypertensive small-vessel disease is thought to be the main cause. Although silent infarcts, by definition, lack clinically overt stroke-like symptoms, they are associated with subtle deficits in physical and cognitive function that commonly go unnoticed. Moreover, the presence of silent infarcts more than doubles the risk of subsequent stroke and dementia. Future studies will have to show whether screening and treating high-risk patients can effectively reduce the risk of further infarcts, stroke, and dementia.

Author and article information

Affiliations
Departments of aNeurology and bMedical Psychology, Radboud University Medical Center, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Neuroscience, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Journal
CED
Cerebrovasc Dis
10.1159/issn.1015-9770
Cerebrovascular Diseases
Cerebrovasc Dis
S. Karger AG (Basel, Switzerland karger@123456karger.com http://www.karger.com )
1015-9770
1421-9786
June 2016
18 February 2016
: 42
: 1-2
: 1-9
© 2016 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel

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Figures: 1, Tables: 1, References: 49, Pages: 9
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