Hand of elderly person comforted by healthcare worker

New model examines impact of stroke on cognitive function

  • Research
  • Society

Stroke is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. In Ireland over 6,000 people are affected by stroke every year. 40% of those who experience a stroke have problems with cognitive function at one year post-stroke; 10-20% have dementia. Problems with cognitive function includes difficulties with things like memory, attention and planning.

A new model called StrokeCog has been developed by RCSI researchers to examine the extent of post-stroke cognitive function. Previous studies have focused on survival and rehabilitation of physical function. This is the first model developed to examine cognitive function and dementia after stroke.

In the study, researchers anaylsed data from national and international sources including Census data, hospital statistics, patient data and population-based studies such as the Irish and English Longitudinal Studies on Ageing (TILDA and ELSA).

Following the analysis, researchers estimate that in 2035, almost 70,000 people aged between 40 and 89 will be living with stroke. This is a doubling of the number of people with post-stroke cognitive problems since 2016.

The researchers estimate that approximately one-in-three of these stroke sufferers will have impaired cognitive function as a result of the stroke and around one-in-six will have dementia.

The study also found that the number of new strokes per year is due to increase annually to over 8,500 in 2035.

The research project was conducted by RCSI in collaboration with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland; University of Liverpool, UK; Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; St James’ Hospital, Dublin, Ireland; Mater University Hospital and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).

The work of StrokeCog aims to improve outcomes for stroke patients and their families by projecting prevalence and incidence of stroke and analysing post-stroke disability, cognitive impairment and dementia to 2035, by sex and age group for the Irish population. StrokeCog aims to achieve this through disease modelling in the population, economic analysis and the design of a cognitive rehabilitation programme.

Further funding has been awarded by the Health Research Board to enable the StrokeCog model to be used to help estimate the potential costs and outcomes associated with stroke treatment in Ireland.

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.