Effects of blood pressure lowering on cerebral white matter hyperintensities in patients with stroke: the PROGRESS (Perindopril Protection Against Recurrent Stroke Study) Magnetic Resonance Imaging Substudy

Circulation. 2005 Sep 13;112(11):1644-50. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.104.501163. Epub 2005 Sep 6.


Background: The prevalence of white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) detected on cerebral MRI is associated with hypertension, but it is not known whether blood pressure lowering can arrest their progression. We report here the results of an MRI substudy of PROGRESS (Perindopril Protection Against Recurrent Stroke Study), a randomized trial of blood pressure lowering in subjects with cerebrovascular disease.

Methods and results: The substudy comprised 192 participants who had a cerebral MRI both at baseline and after a mean follow-up time of 36 months (SD=6.0 months). At the first MRI, WMHs were graded with a visual rating scale from A (no WMH) to D (severe WMH). Participants were assigned to a combination of perindopril plus indapamide (or their placebos; 58%) or to single therapy with perindopril (or placebo). At the time of the second MRI, the blood pressure reduction in the active arm compared with the placebo arm was 11.2 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and 4.3 mm Hg for diastolic blood pressure. Twenty-four subjects (12.5%) developed new WMHs at follow-up. The risk of new WMH was reduced by 43% (95% CI -7% to 89%) in the active treatment group compared with the placebo group (P=0.17). The mean total volume of new WMHs was significantly reduced in the active treatment group (0.4 mm3 [SE=0.8]) compared with the placebo group (2.0 mm3 [SE=0.7]; P=0.012). This difference was greatest for patients with severe WMH at entry, 0.0 mm3 (SE=0) in the active treatment group versus 7.6 mm3 (SE=1.0) in the placebo group (P<0.0001).

Conclusions: These results indicate that an active blood pressure-lowering regimen stopped or delayed the progression of WMHs in patients with cerebrovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Perindopril / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Perindopril