Cerebral microbleeds are associated with cognitive decline early after ischemic stroke
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Background and purpose
The present study aimed to investigate whether cerebral microbleeds (CMB) are associated with vascular cognitive decline (VCD) already in the early course after ischemic stroke, and—if so—whether distinct cognitive domains are affected more preferentially by CMB.
In a prospective cohort study, cognitive performance was examined in 33 stroke patients showing ≥ 1 CMB on MRI. Matched for age, gender, clinical and radiological characteristics, 33 stroke survivors without CMB served as a control group. Neuropsychological testing was performed in both groups six months after the index event using the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s Disease (CERAD)-plus test battery.
CMB-positive stroke patients showed more severe cognitive decline in mini mental state test compared to the control group (p = 0.024). Regarding the episodic memory, CMB-positive patients reached lower scores in Word-List-Learning- (p = 0.009) and the Word-List-Recognition-test (p = 0.006), whereas the findings in Word-List-Recall-test were similar in both groups. While semantic fluency is not more affected in CMB-positive than in CMB-negative patients, those with CMB reveal a significantly impaired phonemic fluency (p = 0.007). Concerning the visuospatial abilities, stroke patients with CMB showed restricted recall of recently learned visual information. Only slight differences between both groups were found in any test investigating the participants’ executive functions.
Cognitive abilities are more severely impaired in CMB-positive stroke patients compared to CMB-free controls, whereby memory-associated functions are most affected. CMB might be associated with post-stroke cognitive decline, particularly with impaired memory and phonemic fluency.
KeywordsCerebral microbleeds Ischemic stroke Cognitive impairment Magnetic resonance imaging CERAD plus test Executive function
Conceived and designed the study: FF. Performed the study: NC, FF. Analyzed the data: NC, FF, VM. Contributed analysis tools: NC, FF, VM. Wrote the paper: NC, FF, VM.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
All authors report no disclosures.