Background: Accumulating evidence suggests that white matter lesions are associated with vascular cognitive impairment. The authors investigated the relationships between white matter lesions, cognitive impairment, and risk of recurrent hemorrhage in a prospectively identified cohort of patients with lobar intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH).
Methods: The authors collected clinical and genetic information on 182 consecutive patients age > or = 55 who had CT scan at admission for lobar ICH. White matter disease was graded on CT in all subjects and on MRI in a subset of 82 patients. All scans were interpreted blinded to clinical information. Survivors were followed for recurrent ICH by telephone interview.
Results: White matter damage was common (present on CT in 77%) and severe (advanced CT grade in 32%). White matter damage was correlated with the total number of hemorrhages on gradient-echo MRI and with risk of recurrent ICH. Subjects with cognitive impairment prior to their index ICH were more likely to have severe white matter damage on CT (OR 3.6, 95% CI 1.6 to 8.1, p = 0.003) and more likely to have advanced periventricular hyperintensities on MRI. The relationships between white matter damage and cognitive impairment were similar in the subset of 88 subjects meeting criteria for probable or definite cerebral amyloid angiopathy and remained independent after adjustment for age, cortical atrophy, and APOE genotype.
Conclusions: White matter damage in lobar ICH is common and is associated with cognitive impairment. These data support the possibility that an underlying vasculopathy in lobar ICH patients, possibly cerebral amyloid angiopathy, can cause clinically important vascular dysfunction.