Physical activity and subclinical MRI cerebral infarcts: the ARIC Study

J Neurol Sci. 2009 Sep 15;284(1-2):135-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2009.04.011. Epub 2009 May 17.


Background: We hypothesized that physical activity (PA), which is often associated with reduced risk of ischemic stroke, may also be associated with reduced risk of subclinical cerebral infarcts.

Objectives: We studied the cross-sectional association between PA and subclinical cerebral infarcts among African-Americans in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.

Methods: PA self-reported at baseline and images from cerebral MRI examination obtained 6 years later were evaluated for presence and location of subclinical infarcts > or = 3 mm in size. After exclusions, 944 participants were eligible for study.

Results: The results suggested an inverse relationship between odds of having a subclinical cerebral infarct and level of PA on several measures, although the multivariable adjusted odds ratios (OR) were statistically significant only for the sport score. A 1-unit increase in the sport score, indicating more leisure PA, was associated with an adjusted OR for having a subclinical cerebral infarct of 0.62 (0.44-0.87), with a statistically significant monotonic trend across quartiles of the score (P = 0.01). There was no association of work scores with subclinical infarcts.

Conclusions: In African-Americans, sport PA was inversely related to subclinical MRI-detected cerebral infarcts assessed six years later.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Infarction / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Occupations
  • Posture
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports
  • United States / epidemiology