Blood clotting and memory problems later in life for women

CLEVELAND - A new study finds fragments of blood platelets, which activate clotting, may contribute to the development of memory problems and increase stroke risk in post-menopausal women.

Dr. Javier Provencio did not take part in the study but treats stroke patients at the Cleveland Clinic.

"It shows that otherwise healthy women who aren't smokers, who don't have previous heart disease, and who don't have other risk factors are still at risk for having some of these findings on M.R.I., which we know are associated with memory problems in the future," said Dr. Provencio.

Mayo Clinic researchers studied 95 post-menopausal women. They found those with higher levels of the platelet fragments also developed changes in the white matter of the brain.

These changes are typically tied to memory problems and the potential for an increased risk of stroke, but the findings are preliminary.

Researchers say coming up with ways to prevent the platelets from developing could, one day, decrease the risk.

Dr. Provencio says the findings are a first step to figuring that out.

"It's clear that menopause is a period of time that puts women at additional risk for heart disease and stroke- even if they don't have the classic risk factors. I think the take-home message for women is that around this period is a good time to reevaluate with your doctor your risk factors and ways that you might be able to prevent stroke and heart attack," said Dr. Provencio.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal of the "American Academy of Neurology."

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