A group of researchers and doctors are calling on the international community to work together to prevent dementia by preventing stroke.

Dr. Vladimir Hachinski from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry says, “If we controlled everything we know about stroke we could prevent 90 per cent of them and we know stroke doubles the chances of dementia.”

Stroke affects more than 50,000 people a year in Canada. Also in Canada there are approximately 76, 000 new cases of dementia annually.

Hachinski says with the high numbers of both conditions, researchers have linked the two as risk factors for one another.

“If you look at what are the leading causes within neurological disorders 42 per cent are due to stroke and 10 per cent are due to dementia, so these are the most important threats to the brain.”

A lot of the work studying the link between stroke and dementia has been done in the lab and those findings have led to important clinical discussions.

Western University Professor Sean Whitehead says, “One of the things we have spent the last couple years trying to figure out is what parts of the brain is the most vulnerable to damage following a stroke and why for example are the brain areas critical areas for the risk of dementia."

He adds that with the two linked together; it’s now time to look at earlier risk factors and prevention.

“Now in the lab we can look, for example, at things that occur even earlier to a stroke. So hypertension, diabetes, metabolic disorders, these are all risks for stroke but also risks for dementia.”

The research team is now calling on the international community to work collaboratively to examine new approaches and national policies when it comes to stroke and dementia.

You can find the full report here.