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Neurology. 1994 Jul;44(7):1246-52.

Cerebral white matter lesions, vascular risk factors, and cognitive function in a population-based study: the Rotterdam Study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus University Medical School, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Cerebral white matter lesions are a common finding on MRI in elderly persons. We studied the prevalence of white matter lesions and their relation with classic cardiovascular risk factors, thrombogenic factors, and cognitive function in an age- and gender-stratified random sample from the general population that consisted of 111 subjects 65 to 84 years of age. Overall, 27% of subjects had white matter lesions. The prevalence and severity of lesions increased with age. A history of stroke or myocardial infarction, factor VIIc activity, and fibrinogen level were each significantly and independently associated with the presence of white matter lesions. Significant relations with blood pressure level, hypertension, and plasma cholesterol were present only for subjects aged 65 to 74 years. White matter lesions tended to be associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function and were significantly associated with subjective mental decline. This study suggests that classic cardiovascular risk factors, as well as thrombogenic factors, are associated with white matter lesions in subjects over 65 years of age in the general population, and that these lesions may be related to cognitive function.

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