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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;77(1):28-33.

Cognitive profile of subcortical ischaemic vascular disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



Subcortical ischaemic vascular disease (SIVD) is a subtype of vascular cognitive impairment characterised by extensive white matter lesions and multiple lacunar infarcts. Radiologically defined diagnostic criteria for SIVD have been introduced, but only a few studies have presented empirical data on its clinical and cognitive features. The aim of this study is to describe in detail the neuropsychological characteristics of patients with SIVD from a large well defined stroke cohort.


A sample of 323 consecutive patients with ischaemic stroke, aged 55-85 years, was investigated using neuropsychological examination and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Patients fulfilling the MRI criteria of SIVD (n = 85) were compared to the other stroke patients (n = 238) and to normal control subjects (n = 38).


Cognitive performance of the SIVD group was inferior to that of the normal control group throughout all domains. As compared to the other stroke patients, the SIVD group performed significantly worse in tests measuring executive functions and delayed memory recall. Adjusting for depression had no effect on these results. Instead, after controlling for medial temporal lobe atrophy, the differences disappeared for delayed memory but remained significant for executive functions.


Executive deficits are the most prominent cognitive characteristic associated with SIVD. Patients with SIVD also exhibit subtle deficits in delayed memory, which is explained in part by medial temporal lobe atrophy. Cognitive and mood changes seem to be parallel but independent processes related to SIVD. The results support the concept of SIVD as a separate clinical entity.

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