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Stroke. 1999 Feb;30(2):383-8.

Prevalence and associations of MRI-demonstrated brain infarcts in elderly subjects with a history of transient ischemic attack. The Cardiovascular Health Study.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Tufts-New England Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.



MRI is more sensitive than CT, but the significance of brain abnormalities seen on MR images obtained in older subjects with transient ischemic attack (TIA) is not clear. We studied the prevalence and risk factors associated with MRI-demonstrated infarcts in elderly subjects with a history of TIA.


Participants of the Cardiovascular Health Study, aged 65 years or more and without prior stroke, were studied with brain MRI (n=3456). The prevalence of brain infarcts (>/=3 mm) on MRI was determined in subjects with and without TIA. The cardiovascular risk factors and clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease associated with MRI infarcts were studied in subjects with TIA.


Subjects with TIA (n=100) had a higher prevalence of MRI infarcts than subjects without TIA (46% versus 28%; P<0.001). The unadjusted odds ratio for having MRI infarcts in subjects with TIA was 2.20 (95% CI, 1.47 to 3.30) and remained significantly elevated after adjustments for risk factors and cerebrovascular disease (odds ratio, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.23 to 2.83). In subjects with TIA, diastolic blood pressure (P=0.01) and internal carotid artery intima-media thickness (P=0.01) were the only factors predictive of the presence of MRI infarcts by stepwise logistic regression analysis.


MRI infarcts are imaging manifestations of clinically important cerebrovascular disease in subjects with a history of TIA, given their increased prevalence and positive association with increased diastolic blood pressure and internal carotid artery intima-media thickness.

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