Rapid buildup of brain white matter hyperintensities over 4 years linked to ambulatory blood pressure, mobility, cognition, and depression in old persons

Citation:

Leslie Wolfson, Dorothy B Wakefield, Nicola Moscufo, Richard F Kaplan, Charles B Hall, Julia A Schmidt, Charles RG Guttmann, and William B White. 2013. “Rapid buildup of brain white matter hyperintensities over 4 years linked to ambulatory blood pressure, mobility, cognition, and depression in old persons.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 68, 11, Pp. 1387-94.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND: Brain white matter hyperintensities (WMH) are associated with functional decline in older people. We performed a 4-year cohort study examining progression of WMH, its effects on mobility, cognition, and depression with the role of clinic and 24-hour ambulatory systolic blood pressure as a predisposing factor. METHODS: Ninety-nine subjects, 75-89 years were stratified by age and mobility, with the 67 completing 4-years comprising the cohort. Mobility, cognition, depressive symptoms, and ambulatory blood pressure were assessed, and WMH volumes were determined by quantitative analysis of magnetic resonance images. RESULTS: WMH increased from 0.99±0.98% of intracranial cavity volume at baseline to 1.47±1.2% at 2 years and 1.74±1.30% after 4 years. Baseline WMH was associated with 4-year WMH (p < .0001), explaining 83% of variability. Small, but consistent mobility decrements and some evidence of cognitive decline were noted over 4 years. Regression analyses using baseline and 4-year WMHs were associated with three of five mobility measures, two of four cognitive measures and the depression scale, all performed at 4 years. Increases in ambulatory systolic blood pressure but not clinic systolic blood pressure during the initial 2 years were associated with greater WMH accrual during those years, while ambulatory systolic blood pressure was related to WMH at 4 years. CONCLUSION: Declines in mobility, cognition, and depressive symptoms were related to WMH accrual over 4 years, and WMH was related to out-of-office blood pressure. This suggests that prevention of microvascular disease, even in asymptomatic older persons, is fundamental for preserving function. There may be value in tighter 24-hour blood pressure control in older persons although this requires further investigation.