Prevalence and Heterogeneity of Cerebrovascular Disease Imaging Lesions

Jonathan Graff-Radford, Jeremiah A. Aakre, David S. Knopman, Christopher G. Schwarz, Kelly D. Flemming, Alejandro A. Rabinstein, Jeffrey L. Gunter, Chadwick P. Ward, Samantha M. Zuk, A. J. Spychalla, Gregory M. Preboske, Ronald C. Petersen, Kejal Kantarci, John Huston, Clifford R. Jack, Michelle M. Mielke, Prashanthi Vemuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To report population age-specific prevalence of core cerebrovascular disease lesions (infarctions, cerebral microbleeds, and white-matter hyperintensities detected with magnetic resonance imaging); estimate cut points for white-matter hyperintensity positivity; investigate sex differences in prevalence; and estimate prevalence of any core cerebrovascular disease features. Patients and Methods: Participants in the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging aged 50 to 89 years underwent fluid-attenuated inversion recovery and T2* gradient-recalled echo magnetic resonance imaging to assess cerebrovascular disease between October 10, 2011, and September 29, 2017. We characterized each participant as having infarct, normal versus abnormal white-matter hyperintensity, cerebral microbleed, or a combination of lesions. Prevalence of cerebrovascular disease biomarkers was derived through adjustment for nonparticipation and standardization to the population of Olmsted County, Minnesota. Results: Among 1462 participants without dementia (median [range] age, 68 [50 to 89] y; men, 52.7%), core cerebrovascular disease features increased with age. Prevalence (95% CI) of cerebral microbleeds was 13.6% (11.6%-15.6%); infarcts, 11.7% (9.7%-13.8%); and abnormal white-matter hyperintensity, 10.7% (8.7%-12.6%). Infarcts and cerebral microbleeds were more common among men. In contrast, abnormal white-matter hyperintensity was more common among women ages 60 to 79 y and men, ages 80 y and older. Prevalence of any core cerebrovascular disease feature determined by presence of at least one cerebrovascular disease feature increased from 9.5% (ages 50 to 59 y) to 73.8% (ages 80 to 89 y). Conclusion: Whereas this study focused on participants without dementia, the high prevalence of cerebrovascular disease imaging lesions in elderly persons makes assignment of clinical relevance to cognition and other downstream manifestations more probabilistic than deterministic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1205
Number of pages11
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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