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J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 2009 Mar;22(1):46-51. doi: 10.1177/0891988708328218. Epub 2008 Dec 10.

The association of transient ischemic attack symptoms with memory impairment among elderly participants of the Third US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.



Stroke is a well-known risk factor for vascular dementia. However, the association of transient ischemic attacks with cognitive impairment is less well-established.


Records from Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were abstracted for demographic and medical information for participants with an age >or=60 years who reported being free of stroke. Five self-reported symptoms (weakness, numbness, loss of vision, inability to speak, and severe dizziness) were used as surrogates representing transient ischemic attacks. Information on conventional risk factors for vascular dementia was also obtained. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine risk factors for memory impairment.


4617 participants were included with a sample-weighted prevalence of memory impairment of 6.6% (1417 participants). The final multivariable analysis revealed a significant association between transient weakness and memory impairment (odds ratio 1.52, 95% CI 1.11-2.07). The other 4 transient ischemic attacks symptoms were not significantly associated with memory impairment in the final model. Systolic blood pressure >140 was most strongly associated with prevalent memory impairment (odds ratio, 9.78, 95% CI 1.49-64.3). Other associated risk factors included non-white race, male gender, age, education <or=12 years, and history of any alcohol use.


Among transient ischemic attacks symptoms, self-reported weakness in the face, arm, or leg was significantly associated with memory impairment. This study indicates that transient ischemic attacks symptoms are, even in the absence of stroke, associated with memory impairment. Aggressive risk factor modification in patients with TIA symptoms may be warranted to prevent potential future memory loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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