MRI Measurement Can Help Predict Brain Vascular Disease

May 28, 2013

MRI measurements of aortic arch pulse wave velocity allow physicians to predict cognitive decline and cardiovascular diseases.

Aortic arch pulse wave velocity, measured by phase-contrast MRI, provides a highly significant independent predictor of white matter hyperintensity volume, which can indicate cerebral microvascular disease, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas evaluated the relationship between aortic stiffness and cerebrovascular disease in 1,270 participants who were part of the multiethnic Dallas Heart Study. The researchers measured the aortic pulse wave velocity with phase-contrast MRI.

Seven years later, the subjects underwent MRIs to measure the volume of any white matter hyperintensity in the brain. The researchers also looked at 15 other cardiovascular risk factors as predictors of white matter hyperintensity, as well as age, gender, and ethnicities.

The authors found that the aortic arch pulse wave velocity helped predict white matter hyperintensity volume independent of the other demographic and cardiovascular risk factors. They estimated that a 1 percent increase in aortic arch pulse wave velocity (meters per second) is related to a 0.3 percent increase in subsequent white matter hyperintensity volume in milliliters, when all other variables are constant.

The authors concluded that the aortic arch pulse wave velocity measured with phase-contrast MRI is an optimal predictive model of subsequent white matter hyperintensity burden, which in turn can predict cardiovascular disease. These measurements provide a distinct contribution along with systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, congestive heart failure, and age.