Aortic hemodynamics and white matter hyperintensities in normotensive postmenopausal women

Jill N. Barnes, Ronée E. Harvey, Samantha M. Zuk, Emily S. Lundt, Timothy G. Lesnick, Jeffrey L. Gunter, Matthew L. Senjem, Lynne T. Shuster, Virginia M. Miller, Clifford R. Jack, Michael J. Joyner, Kejal Kantarci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Hypertension is associated with development of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) in the brain, which are risk factors for mild cognitive impairment. Hormonal shifts at menopause alter vascular function putting women at risk for both hypertension and WMH. Elevations in aortic hemodynamics precede the appearance of clinically defined hypertension but the relationship of aortic hemodynamics to development of WMH in women is not known. Therefore, this study aimed to characterize aortic hemodynamics in relationship to WMH in postmenopausal women. Aortic systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP), aortic augmentation index (Alx) and aortic round trip travel time (Aortic TR) by tonometry were examined in 53 postmenopausal women (age 60 ± 2 years). WMH was calculated from fluid-attenuated inversion recovery MRI using a semi-automated segmentation algorithm. WMH as a fraction of total white matter volume positively associated with aortic systolic BP (regression coefficient = 0.018; p = 0.04) after adjusting for age. In addition, WMH fraction was positively associated with AIx (0.025; p = 0.04), and inversely associated with Aortic TR (−0.015; p = 0.04) after adjusting for age. Our results suggest that assessing aortic hemodynamics may identify individuals at risk for accelerated development of WMH and guide early treatment to reduce WMH burden and cognitive impairment in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)938-945
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Blood pressure
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cognitive aging
  • MRI
  • Stroke prevention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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