JOURNAL ARTICLE

Brain microbleeds relate to higher ambulatory blood pressure levels in first-ever lacunar stroke patients

Julie Staals, Robert J van Oostenbrugge, Iris L H Knottnerus, Rob P W Rouhl, Léon H G Henskens, Jan Lodder
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2009, 40 (10): 3264-8
19661468

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Hypertension is an important risk factor for brain microbleeds (BMBs) in lacunar stroke patients. However, beyond the qualitative label "hypertension," little is known about the association with ambulatory blood pressure (BP) levels.

METHODS: In 123 first-ever lacunar stroke patients we performed 24-hour ambulatory BP monitoring after the acute stroke-phase. We counted BMBs on T2*-weighted gradient-echo MR images. Because a different etiology for BMBs according to location has been suggested, we distinguished between BMBs in deep and lobar location.

RESULTS: BMBs were seen in 36 (29.3%) patients. After adjusting for age, sex, number of antihypertensive drugs, asymptomatic lacunar infarcts, and white matter lesions, we found 24-hour, day, and night systolic and diastolic BP levels to be significantly associated with the presence and number of BMBs (odds ratios 1.6 to 2.3 per standard deviation increase in BP). Distinguishing between different locations, various BP characteristics were significantly associated with the presence of deep (or combined deep and lobar) BMBs, but not with purely lobar BMBs.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results underline the role of a high 24-hour BP load as an important risk factor for BMBs. The association of BP levels with deep but not purely lobar BMBs is in line with the idea that different vasculopathies might be involved. Deep BMBs may be a particular marker of BP-related small vessel disease, but longitudinal and larger studies are now warranted to substantiate these findings.

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