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Neurobiol Aging. 2007 Sep;28(9):1307-15. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

White matter grade and ventricular volume on brain MRI as markers of longevity in the cardiovascular health study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, 130 N. Bellefield Ave., Rm. 550, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States. <>


High white matter grade (WMG) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a risk factor for dementia, stroke and disability. Higher ventricular size is a marker of brain "atrophy." In the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) (n=3245) mean age 75 years, 50% black and 40% men, we evaluated WM and ventricular grade (VG), total, cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality and longevity before and after adjusting for numerous determinants of longevity over an approximate 10-12 years of follow-up. A low WMG and VG was a marker for low total, cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality and for increased longevity over 10+ years of follow-up. We estimated that a 75-year-old with WMG below median would have about a 5-6 years greater longevity and for VG about 3 years, than above the median even after adjustment for numerous risk factors. Low WMG and VG on MRI is a powerful determinant of long-term survival among older individuals.

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