JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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VITA study: white matter hyperintensities of vascular and degenerative origin in the elderly.

The etiology of white matter hyperintensities (WMH) seen on T2-weighted cranial magnetic resonance images is a matter of debate. We investigated deep and periventricular WMH in the brains of a community-based cohort of 532 subjects aged 75-76 years. The objective of this study was to determine whether WMH at age of 75 years were associated rather with vascular factors than with degenerative factors. Arterial hypertension treated with antihypertensive drugs favored WMH, and WMH were found more frequently in subjects with focal vascular lesions. Additionally, we found significant associations between both, deep white matter and periventricular hyperintensities, and focal atrophy of medial temporal lobe structures. The odds ratio for deep WMH in subjects with more severe medial temporal atrophy was 4.4 (95%-CI: 1.9-9.8) that for periventricular hyperintensities was 3.9 (95%-CI: 1.7-8.8). These findings might indicate that not only vascular factors alone but also degenerative factors favor the occurrence of WMH after the age of 75 years.

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