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Cognitive decline incidence higher in Southern stroke belt
Date:5/26/2011

gions," said Virginia Wadley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Researchers assessed brain function using the Six-item Screener (SIS)a test of global cognitive function that includes item recall and temporal orientation. SIS scores range from 0 to 6 with a score of 4 or less representing cognitive impairment.

Results indicate that 8.1% of participants showed cognitive impairment at their most recent assessment, over a mean of 4.1 years following the initial assessment. Stroke Belt residents had a greater likelihood of cognitive impairment than non-Belt residents (odds ratio=1.18); all demographic factors and time independently predicted impairment. Risk of cognitive impairment was 18% higher in residents of the Stroke Belt than in those living in non-Belt states after adjusting for the influences of age, sex, race, and education level.

The research team suggests that future studies should examine the impact of migration patterns, urban versus rural residence, socioeconomic factors, and educational quality on cognitive decline. "Investigating regional patterns that contribute to modifiable risk factors affecting cognitive decline will allow for prevention and intervention efforts that are geographically concentrated," concluded Dr. Wadley. "Information obtained from the REGARDS study can be used to develop services for older Americans at both local and national levels to improve outcomes for those most vulnerable to diminished cognitive function."


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