While going to college may be integral to furthering your career, a recent study suggests that educated individuals who also suffer memory lapses may be at risk for stroke. A team of researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam in Holland found that the risk of stroke was 39 percent higher in individuals who had higher levels of education than in those who had lower levels of education. Although the link between stroke and studying has been identified, the researchers weren’t able to say why it existed in the first place.

Researchers have observed that stroke patients often report memory loss. The common consensus in the medical community is that strokes are the cause of the memory loss, but a team of Dutch researchers dared to question if the opposite could be true.

"Given the shared underlying vascular pathology, we posed the reverse question: 'Do memory complaints indicate an increased risk of strokes?'" Dr. Arfan Ikram, one of the researchers involved in the project explained, as reported by Medicinenet.

In order to answer this question, the team followed 9,000 people in Rotterdam, aged 55 and older, giving them sporadic memory exams over the course of over 20 years. At the end of the study, a total of 1,134 individuals reported having strokes.

Results showed that overall memory problems were independently associated with higher risk of stroke, but this risk was 39 percent higher in those who had a higher level of education.

"If in future research we can confirm this, then I would like to assess whether people who complain about changes in their memory should be considered primary targets for further risk assessment and prevention of stroke," the team concluded.

The correlation was identified, but the team emphasized they cannot explain why this link exists. There were holes in faults in the study, such as a lack of diversity in the participants’ backgrounds. The team does plan on adding on to their research and conducting a larger study consisting of a wider range of participants.

A stroke occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain is blocked. This causes brain cells to die and induces symptoms such as sudden weakness, paralysis, and trouble seeing.

The Rotterdam scientists suggest what they have found could help prevent strokes in at-risk adults.

"This [memory loss]can be an indicator they have reached an advanced stage, when the cognitive reserve is not compensating anymore," explained Ikram, adding that memory loss could be "telling you to keep a watch on this person," BBC reported.

According to the Stroke Awareness Foundation, other factors that put one at an increased risk for stroke include high blood pressure, being overweight, having unhealthy cholesterol levels, drinking and smoking, and not exercising enough.

Source: Sajjad A, Mirza SS, Prtegies MLP, et al. Subjective Memory Complaints and the Risk of Stroke. Stroke. 2014.