Late-Life Vascular Risk Score in Association With Postmortem Cerebrovascular Disease Brain Pathologies

Stroke. 2021 Jun;52(6):2060-2067. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.030226. Epub 2021 Apr 12.


Background and purpose: The general cardiovascular Framingham risk score (FRS) identifies adults at increased risk for stroke. We tested the hypothesis that baseline FRS is associated with the presence of postmortem cerebrovascular disease (CVD) pathologies.

Methods: We studied the brains of 1672 older decedents with baseline FRS and measured CVD pathologies including macroinfarcts, microinfarcts, atherosclerosis, arteriolosclerosis, and cerebral amyloid angiopathy. We employed a series of logistic regressions to examine the association of baseline FRS with each of the 5 CVD pathologies.

Results: Average age at baseline was 80.5±7.0 years and average age at death was 89.2±6.7 years. A higher baseline FRS was associated with higher odds of macroinfarcts (odds ratio, 1.10 [95% CI, 1.07-1.13], P<0.001), microinfarcts (odds ratio, 1.04 [95% CI, 1.01-1.07], P=0.009), atherosclerosis (odds ratio, 1.07 [95% CI, 1.04-1.11], P<0.001), and arteriolosclerosis (odds ratio, 1.04 [95% CI, 1.01-1.07], P=0.005). C statistics for these models ranged from 0.537 to 0.595 indicating low accuracy for predicting CVD pathologies. FRS was not associated with the presence of cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

Conclusions: A higher FRS score in older adults is associated with higher odds of some, but not all, CVD pathologies, with low discrimination at the individual level. Further work is needed to develop a more robust risk score to identify adults at risk for accumulating CVD pathologies.

Keywords: arteriolosclerosis; atherosclerosis; autopsy; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; cerebral infarction; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / epidemiology
  • Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Intracranial Arteriosclerosis / pathology*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors