Practical Small Vessel Disease Score Relates to Stroke, Dementia, and Death

Stroke. 2018 Dec;49(12):2857-2865. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.118.022485.


Background and Purpose- In the general population, we investigated the association of a recently developed cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) sum score with stroke, dementia, and mortality. Methods- One thousand six hundred fifty-one stroke-free and nondemented participants (mean age, 73.3 years; 54.5% women) of the population-based Rotterdam Study underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging (1.5T) in 2005-2011 and were followed for stroke, dementia, and mortality until 2016-2017. The CSVD sum score was composed by counting the presence of 4 magnetic resonance imaging markers (white matter hyperintensities, lacunes, cerebral microbleeds, and perivascular spaces; range, 0-4). We determined the association of the CSVD score with risk of stroke, dementia, and mortality using Cox models, adjusting for age, sex, and other Framingham Stroke Risk Profile predictors. Additionally, we assessed mortality as a competing risk for stroke and dementia and calculated absolute risk estimates for all outcomes. Results- During a mean follow-up of 7.2 years, 66 participants developed stroke, 76 developed dementia, and 306 died. The Framingham Stroke Risk Profile-adjusted hazard ratios of 1 point higher sum score were 1.54 (95% CI, 1.16-2.03) for stroke, 1.25 (95% CI, 0.95-1.64) for dementia, and 1.15 (95% CI, 1.01-1.31) for mortality. No significant differences were seen for subdistribution hazard ratios for stroke and dementia. A higher CSVD score yielded higher absolute risk estimates for all outcomes, calculated during 10 years. Conclusions- The CSVD score is a practical measure of global vascular brain injury. A higher sum score on magnetic resonance imaging is associated with higher risk of suffering a stroke, developing dementia, and death.

Keywords: cerebral small vessel disease; dementia; magnetic resonance imaging; mortality; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mortality*
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / epidemiology*