(HealthDay News) – Poor executive performance, as measured with the Trail Making Test (TMT)-A and -B, can identify elderly men who are at higher risk of death after a first-ever stroke, according to a study published online May 9 in BMJ Open.

Bernice Wiberg, MD, PhD, from Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues examined the association between pre-stroke cognitive performance and mortality after a stroke in 919 men, aged approximately 70 years, who had undergone cognitive function tests. During 14 years of follow-up, the researchers recorded a first-ever stroke or transient ischemic attack in 155 men, and 54% died under a median of 2.5 years after the event.

After adjusting for factors such as age, education, social group, and traditional stroke risk factors, the researchers found a significant association between mortality and poor performance on TMT-A (hazard ratio [HR], 1.88 per standard deviation). There was an almost three-fold increased risk of mortality for those in the highest versus the lowest tertile (HR, 2.9 per standard deviation). A similar association was observed for TMT-B. There was no association between mortality and the scores on the Mini-Mental State Examination.

“TMT-A and -B, easily accessible cognitive tests for clinical use, may not only be used as tools for identifying risk of stroke but may also be considered important predictors of post-stroke mortality,” Wiberg and colleagues conclude.

One author disclosed financial ties to Itrim; another author disclosed ties to AstraZeneca.

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