Magnetic resonance imaging detects very small cerebrovascular lesions, which may be associated with increased risks for stroke and death, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers from Mississippi, Maryland, Washington, Minnesota, and North Carolina sought to determine stroke risks associated with brain lesions 3 mm or smaller, which are typically ignored by clinicians, and white matter hypersensitivities (WMHs).
A total of 1,884 subjects, aged 50 to 73, with no prior history of stroke, participated in the study. All underwent MRI of the brain. The researchers evaluated:
• Lesion size
• WMH score (scale of 0 to 9)
• Incident stroke
• All-cause mortality
• Stroke-related mortality
Follow-up was an average of 14.5 years.
The results showed that the stroke risk was tripled among patients who had lesions that were 3 mm or smaller, compared with patients who had no lesions seen by MRI. There were:
• 157 clinical strokes (89% were ischemic strokes)
• 50 stroke-related deaths
• 576 all-cause deaths
The researchers concluded that these very small cerebrovascular lesions may be associated with an increased risk of stroke and death, but more study is needed.