Stroke and dementia are the two leading causes of neurological disability in the UK and are the most costly in terms of health and social care. Stroke and dementia share risk factors and often co-exist, each increasing the risk and severity of the other. The aim of our theme is to improve the prevention of diseases of the blood vessels which can lead to stroke and vascular dementia and identify better ways to treat them.
We use a variety of strategies and methodology for our research projects, including population-based cohort studies, state of the art brain and blood vessel imaging, biobanks and collaborative analyses of multiple randomised clinical trials. We also have a large collection of brains donated by people for research after their death, which are used to better understand the changes that occur with these conditions.
Our projects aim to:
- Improve the early recognition of people at risk of stroke and/or vascular dementia, and be able to predicting who these people are likely to be;
- Investigate the ways in which other illnesses or conditions affect blood flow to and within the brain impact stroke and/or vascular dementia frequency and severity;
- To better understand the effects of widely used existing treatments, for example blood pressure lowering medication, using clinical trials and big data;
- Maximise the effectiveness of existing preventive treatments with innovative use of new technologies.
Several of the studies within the theme involve researchers working closely with patients in a clinical setting and seeing them for follow up visits over a number of years. This close participation of patients in research is considered to be crucial to the development of all the treatments and strategies we are investigating in order to ensure they are feasible for use in routine clinical practice.
Wolfson Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia
In 2020, the Wolfson Centre for the Prevention of Stroke and Dementia (CPSD) opened, based at the new Wolfson Building at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital. The new centre is the only purpose-built clinical research centre looking specifically at stroke and dementia in the UK, and will house an estimated 25% of all the UK’s active stroke researchers. The researchers use a broad range of techniques to increase our understanding of the causes of cerebrovascular disease and improve the prevention of stroke in routine clinical practice. These include large population-based cohort studies, state-of-the-art brain and blood vessel imaging and biobanks. Funding for the CPSD, and the new Wolfson Building, was provided by the Wolfson Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
In this talk Sarah Pendlebury discusses data showing how stroke or infection can impact on thinking and memory (cognitive function) both in the short (days) and longer term (months to years). Patients who experience worsening of cognition in association with acute illness are at increased risk of complications in hospital such as falls and have an increased likelihood of developing dementia in the future.