Cognitive function improves up to one year after minor stroke

Åse Hagen Morsund has explored the prevalence of cognitive and emotional symptoms and ability to return to work after a minor stroke.


  1. Minor stroke patients have lower cognitive function than the norm for their age.
  2. There’s still an improvement of cognitive function between three months and one year after a minor stroke.
  3. Employment rates are high one year after a minor stroke.


Thesis: Cognitive impairment in minor Stroke – An observational study of the prevalence of cognitive impairment and emotional symptoms and consequences for social functioning and employment
Candidate: Åse Hagen Morsund
Time: November 16, 2020 at 12:15
Place: Online-based solution, due to the covid-19 situation
Link to university website


(1) Patients with a minor stroke do not have impaired cognitive function compared to patients with NSTEMI, but higher prevalence of anxiety, depression and fatigue. They also have significantly lower cognitive function than expected for persons their age, especially when it comes to executive functioning.

In the study, 325 patients underwent cognitive testing one year after a minor stroke stroke. They also filled in a questionnaire that measures emotional symptoms. The location of the ischemic lesion did not influence cognitive test results. Depression was linked to reduced cognition. 144 NSTEMI patients constituted the control group.

(2) Cognitive function improves between three and 12 months following a minor stroke. However, the prevalence of cognitive impairment was still as high as 35% after a year, and 30% were fatigued. Depression increased from three to 12-months follow-up.

287 patient performed tests both three and 12 months after a minor stroke. Hypertension and smoking were associated with impaired cognitive function.

(3) 82% of previously employed patients with minor stroke return to work within a year of the event. This amount is somewhat lower than for NSTEMI patients, who are also still at work at an older age than minor stroke patients.

Cognitive function is not associated with employment in minor stroke patients. However, depressed patients are less likely to work and patients with higher education are more likely to work one year after the event. This study includes 217 stroke patients and 133 NSTEMI patients.


(1) Morsund, Å. H., Ellekjær, H., Gramstad, A., Reiestad, M. T., Midgard, R., Sando, S. B., Jonsbu, E., & Næss, H. (2019). Cognitive and Emotional Impairment after Minor Stroke and Non-ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (NSTEMI): A Prevalence Study. Stroke research and treatment2019.

(2) Morsund, Å. H., Ellekjær, H., Gramstad, A., Reiestad, M. T., Midgard, R., Sando, S. B., Jonsbu, E., & Næss, H. (2019). The development of cognitive and emotional impairment after a minor stroke: A longitudinal studyActa Neurologica Scandinavica140(4), 281-289.

(3) Morsund, Å. H., Ellekjær, H., Gramstad, A., Reiestad, M. T., Midgard, R., Sando, S. B., Jonsbu, E., & Næss, H. (2020). Factors influencing employment after minor stroke and NSTEMI. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases29(9), 105036.

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