Cerebral cortical microinfarcts: A novel MRI marker of vascular brain injury in patients with heart failure

Int J Cardiol. 2020 Jul 1:310:96-102. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2020.04.032. Epub 2020 Apr 13.


Background: Patients with heart failure (HF) are at risk for vascular brain injury. Cerebral cortical microinfarcts (CMIs) are a novel MRI marker of vascular brain injury. This study aims to determine the occurrence of CMIs in patient with HF and their clinical correlates, including haemodynamic status.

Methods: From the Heart-Brain Study, a multicenter prospective cohort study, 154 patients with clinically stable HF without concurrent atrial fibrillation (mean age 69.5 ± 10.1, 32% female) and 124 reference participants without HF (mean age 65.6 ± 7.4, 47% females) were evaluated for CMIs on 3 T MRI. CMI presence in HF was tested for associations with vascular risk profile, cardiac function and history, MRI markers of vascular brain injury and cognitive profile.

Results: CMI occurrence was higher in patient with HF (17%) than reference participants (7%); after correction for age and sex OR 2.5 [95% CI 1.1-6.0] p = .032; after additional correction for vascular risk factors OR 2.7 [1.0-7.1] p = .052. In patients with HF, CMI presence was associated with office hypertension (OR 2.7 [1.2-6.5] p = .021) and a lower cardiac index (B = -0.29 [-0.55--0.04] p = .023 independent of vascular risk factors), but not with cause or duration of HF. Presence of CMIs was not associated with cognitive performance in patients with HF.

Conclusions: CMIs are a common occurrence in patients with HF and related to an adverse vascular risk factor profile and severity of cardiac dysfunction. CMIs thus represent a novel marker of vascular brain injury in these patients.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Cerebrovascular disease/stroke; Cognitive impairment; Embolism; Heart failure.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Trauma*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure* / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Failure* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies