Background and ObjectivesThe severity of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) at presentation with stroke is associated with poststroke dementia and dependency. However, WMH can decrease or increase after stroke; prediction of cognitive decline is imprecise; and there are few data assessing longitudinal interrelationships among changing WMH, cognition, and function after stroke, despite the clinical importance.MethodsWe recruited patients within 3 months of a minor ischemic stroke, defined as NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score <8 and not expected to result in a modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score >2. Participants repeated MRI at 1 year and cognitive and mRS assessments at 1 and 3 years. We ran longitudinal mixed-effects models assessing change in Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination-Revised (ACE-R) and mRS scores. For mRS score, we assessed longitudinal WMH volumes (cube root; percentage intracranial volume [ICV]), adjusting for age, NIHSS score, ACE-R, stroke subtype, and time to assessment. For ACE-R score, we additionally adjusted for ICV, mRS, premorbid IQ, and vascular risk factors. We then used a multivariate model to jointly assess changing cognition/mRS score, adjusted for prognostic variables, using all available data.ResultsWe recruited 264 patients; mean age was 66.9 (SD 11.8) years; 41.7% were female; and median mRS score was 1 (interquartile range 1-2). One year after stroke, normalized WMH volumes were associated more strongly with 1-year ACE-R score (β = -0.259, 95% CI -0.407 to -0.111 more WMH per 1-point ACE-R decrease, p = 0.001) compared to subacute WMH volumes and ACE-R score (β = 0.105, 95% CI -0.265 to 0.054, p = 0.195). Three-year mRS score was associated with 3-year ACE-R score (β = -0.272, 95% CI -0.429 to -0.115, p = 0.001). Combined change in baseline-1-year jointly assessed ACE-R/mRS scores was associated with fluctuating WMH volumes (F = 9.3, p = 0.03).DiscussionAfter stroke, fluctuating WMH mean that 1-year, but not baseline, WMH volumes are associated strongly with contemporaneous cognitive scores. Covarying longitudinal decline in cognition and independence after stroke, central to dementia diagnosis, is associated with increasing WMH volumes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Wellcome Trust (WT088134/Z/09/A; funded most of the data collection and S.D.J.M). For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC-BY public copyright license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. The 3-year follow-up was also funded by Chest, Heart Stroke Scotland:Res14/A157 (C.A.M.); support for the research was also received from NHS Research Scotland (V.C., F.D.); Row Fogo Charitable Trust Centre for Research Into Aging and the Brain (BROD.FID3668413; M.d.C.V.H., E.S.); the European Union Horizon 2020 project 666,881, SVDs@Target (F.M.C); Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Imaging Network, A Platform for Scientific Excellence Initiative; Chief Scientist Office Scotland (U.C.; CAF/18/08); Stroke Association Princess Margaret Research Development Fellowship (U.C.); and Stroke Association–Garfield Weston Foundation Senior Clinical Lectureship (FND;TSALECT 2015/04). Funding provided by the Fondation Leducq (16-CVD-05) and UK Dementia Research Institute (J.M.W.), funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Society, and Alzheimer's Research UK, is gratefully acknowledged.