Pulmonary arteriovenous malformations are associated with silent brain infarcts in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia patients

Waleed Brinjikji, Deena Nasr, Christopher P. Wood, Vivek N. Iyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose: There is a high prevalence of right-to-left shunting pulmonary arteriovenous malformations (PAVMs), which are stroke risk factors, in hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) patients. While the prevalence of ischemic complications in HHT patients is known, the prevalence of silent brain infarcts (SBI) remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for SBI in HHT patients. Materials and Methods: Our institutional HHT database was queried to identify HHT patients who received a baseline screening brain MRI from January 2000 to February 2017. This study group was further refined by excluding patients who had a history of clinical ischemic disease as defined by having a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Brain MRIs were reviewed for SBI. Baseline data on demographics, Curacao criteria, presence of PAVMs, and cardiovascular risk factors were collected. The primary outcome was SBI prevalence. We also examined which baseline patient characteristics were associated with SBI through univariate chi-square and Student t tests and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Results: Three hundred fifty three consecutive HHT patients from January 2000 to February 2017 with a screening brain MRI and no prior history of stroke/TIA were included. SBI prevalence was 9.9% (35/353). SBI patients were more likely to have PAVMs than non-SBI patients (80.6 vs. 53.1%, p = 0.005). The median age was 66 in the SBI group and 52 in the non-SBI group (p = 0.006). SBI patients had higher prevalence of hyperlipidemia (34.3 vs. 9.8%, p < 0.0001), hypertension (48.6 vs. 22.0%, p = 0.005), and tobacco use (25.7 vs. 9.8%, p = 0.005). No patients under 30 had SBI. In the 60-69 age group, the prevalence of SBI was 18.8% with rates of 28.6% in the PAVM group and 10.5% in the non-PAVM group. For patients ≥70 years old, the prevalence of SBI was 21.4% overall and 27.6% in the PAVM group and 10.5% in the non-PAVM group. On multivariate analysis, PAVMs (OR 3.62, 95% CI 1.46-10.40) and increasing age (OR 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.07) were independently associated with SBI. Conclusions: Overall, a similar 10% SBI prevalence in the HHT cohort was noted as compared to the general population. However, the prevalence of SBI was higher in HHT patients with PAVMs when compared to that of the general population, particularly among patients than 60 years old. These findings highlight the need to accurately identify, and when appropriate, treat PAVMs in the HHT population especially given the multiple significant, clinical consequences of SBI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-185
Number of pages7
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia,Silent brain infarct,MRI,Ischemia,Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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