Brain atrophy and small vessel disease increase the risk of dementia and stroke. In a population-based cohort study (n = 490; 60-90 years) we investigated how volumetric measures of atrophy and small vessel disease were related to mortality and whether this was independent of incident dementia or stroke. Brain volume and hippocampal volume were considered as measures of atrophy, whereas white matter lesions (WML) and lacunar infarcts reflected small vessel disease. We first investigated all-cause mortality in the whole cohort. In subsequent analyses we censored persons at incident dementia or incident stroke. Finally, we separately investigated cardiovascular mortality. The average follow-up was 8.4 years, during which 191 persons died. Brain atrophy and hippocampal atrophy, as well as WML increased the risk of death. The risks associated with hippocampal atrophy attenuated when censoring persons at incident dementia, but not at incident stroke. Censoring at either incident dementia or stroke did not change the risk associated with brain atrophy and WML. Moreover, WML were particularly associated with cardiovascular mortality.

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Neurobiology of Aging: age-related phenomena, neurodegeneration and neuropathology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ikram, A., Vernooij, M., Vrooman, H., Breteler, M., & Hofman, A. (2009). Brain tissue volumes and small vessel disease in relation to the risk of mortality. Neurobiology of Aging: age-related phenomena, neurodegeneration and neuropathology, 30(3), 450–456. doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2007.07.009