Stroke-prevention strategies are an important part of preserving the health and welfare of an aging population, but researchers in Ontario noted in a new study that such efforts, including eating healthier and taking certain medications, had another positive side effect: they reduced numbers of dementia cases as well.

The study, now published online in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, found that stroke prevention strategies, which also included exercise, and a tobacco-free life, also lowered the incidences of some dementias in those who are aged 80 and older. These findings are particularly noteworthy as individuals who have suffered a stroke are twice as likely to develop dementia.

Read: 90% Of Strokes Are Preventable; High Blood Pressure And Lack Of Exercise Rank As Top Risk Factors

"With lifestyle changes, we can reduce our risks of both stroke and some dementias. That's a pretty powerful one-two punch," said lead researcher Dr. Vladimir Hachinski in a statement.

Data for the study was obtained using information from the ICES database in Toronto. The team looked at the incidences of new stroke diagnosis in high-risk individuals. In doing so they noted that the incidence of stroke had dropped by 37.9 percent and dementia diagnosis had dropped by 15.4 percent, during the same time that the government implemented stroke-prevention strategies. More research will be needed to understand the ties between falling stroke and dementia rates, as this is the first study to have looked at stroke and dementia rates in Ontario since the country first implemented such strategies in 2000.

"As clinicians and researchers, we are still trying to get a handle on how to reduce a person's chances of dementia late in life,” added Hachinski. “Some we can't influence - yet - but here is a pretty clear indication that we can take specific definitive steps to reduce our chances of dementia related to vascular disease.”

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. This deprives the brain cells of oxygen and they may begin to die. Upon recovery, strokes can cause long-term damage such as paralysis or inability to speak. This is either caused by a burst or weakened blood vessel, such as in the case of an hemorrhagic stroke, or a blocked blood vessel, such as in the case of an ischemic stroke.

Strokes are very common and affect about 800,000 people each year, making it the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition, strokes are also the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S, the NSA reports.

Source: Cerasuolo JO, Cipriano LE, Sposato LA, et al. Population-based stroke and dementia incidence trends: Age and sex variations. The Journal of The Alzheimer’s Association . 2017

See Also:

9 Warning Signs Of A Stroke Or TIA; F.A.S.T Symptoms And More You Should Know

Birth Control Pills Increase Risk For Ischemic Stroke, But Only In Certain Women: Study