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Stroke. 1996 Dec;27(12):2262-70.

Presence and severity of cerebral white matter lesions and hypertension, its treatment, and its control. The ARIC Study. Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.



White matter lesions (WML) may result from cerebral hypoperfusion or ischemia. We investigated the association of WML with blood pressure, hypertension, and its treatment and control.


A random sample of 1920 participants aged 55 to 72 years in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) was examined. Spin-density 1.5-T MRI scan images were coded from 0 for normal to 9 for most severe WML. Hypertension was defined as systolic or diastolic pressure > or = 140/90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive medication.


The percentages of persons with WML grades 0 through 2 and 3 through 9, respectively, were as follow: normotensive, 92.4% and 7.6%, versus all hypertensive subjects, 83% and 17% (P < .001); and treated controlled hypertensive, 86% and 14%, versus treated uncontrolled hypertensive subjects, 76% and 24% (P = .003). Multivariable adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for WML grade > or = 3 relative to normotensive subjects was 2.34 (1.71 to 3.20) for all hypertensives, 1.99 (1.19 to 3.08) for untreated hypertensives, 1.94 (1.32 to 2.85) for treated controlled hypertensives, and 3.40 (2.30 to 5.03) for treated uncontrolled hypertensives. After additional adjustment for hypertension duration, treatment, and control status, the odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) for a 1 SD increase of systolic and diastolic blood pressure were 1.43 (1.11 to 1.85) and 1.16 (0.94 to 1.43), respectively.


Hypertension is associated with increased odds of WML, and treated uncontrolled hypertensive subjects have greater odds of WML than those with treated controlled hypertension. The data suggest that the level of blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure, is related to WML, additional to the effects of categorically defined hypertension and its treatment and control status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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