Objective: To determine whether demographic data, dementia severity, functional status, whole brain volume (WBV), or subcortical hyperintensity volume (SH) predict subsequent cognitive decline in vascular dementia (VaD).
Background: The identification of variables that accurately predict progressive cognitive decline in dementia has important clinical implications.
Methods: A cohort of 30 patients with VaD completed neurologic and neuropsychologic examinations and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain at baseline and again after 12 months. All participants met clinical and research criteria for VaD according to standard guidelines. Change scores were computed for measures of verbal fluency, verbal learning, and visual learning. Potential correlates of cognitive change included age, education, score on the Hachinski scale, WBV, SH, and functional ability.
Results: As a group, lower WBV and lower Hachinski score correlated with decline in verbal fluency and visual learning, whereas lower Hachinski score correlated with decline in verbal learning. However, when subdivided by disease type, this pattern held only for individuals with evidence of a cortical stroke at baseline. No clinical variables correlated with cognitive decline among individuals without a cortical infarction.
Conclusions: Assessment of cognitive decline in VaD should be guided by dementia subtype, with particular attention directed at severity of cerebral atrophy rather than classic symptoms of infarction.