Lifestyle and Cognitive Decline in Community-Dwelling Stroke Survivors

J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;89(2):745-754. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220305.


Background: Patients with stroke are at a higher risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease dementia.

Objective: To quantify the role of lifestyle pre-stroke, post-stroke, and changes in lifestyle before and after stroke with cognitive decline in community-dwelling stroke survivors.

Methods: Utilizing data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a population-based cohort study, we studied 1,078 individuals with stroke (662 incident and 416 prevalent) who underwent cognitive testing during the study period. A healthy lifestyle score was defined by scoring four behaviors: non-smoking, exercising, being cognitively active, and having a high-quality diet. The global cognitive score was derived from a comprehensive battery of 4 standardized tests.

Results: The mean age at incident stroke was 78.2 years, and 60.1% were women. A healthy lifestyle pre-incident stroke was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline after stroke. Participants with 3-4 healthy lifestyle factors pre-incident stroke had a slower cognitive decline after stroke by 0.046 units/year (95% CI 0.010, 0.083), or 47.7% slower, than participants with 0-1 healthy lifestyle factor. Lifestyle score post-prevalent stroke was not associated with cognitive decline. Changes in lifestyle behaviors from pre- to post-incident stroke were related to cognitive decline after stroke. Individuals who deteriorated their lifestyle quality after stroke had a faster cognitive decline by 0.051 units/year (β -0.051, 95% CI -0.090, -0.012) than participants with no change in lifestyle score.

Conclusion: A healthy lifestyle pre-stroke was associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in stroke survivors, highlighting the importance of primary prevention. After the stroke, changes in lifestyle behaviors may influence the cognitive abilities of older adults as they age.

Keywords: Cognition; cognitive decline; cohort study; healthy lifestyle; stroke patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / etiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Stroke* / complications
  • Stroke* / epidemiology
  • Stroke* / psychology
  • Survivors