Subcortical Vascular Cognitive Impairment

  • Yeo Jin Kim
Part of the Stroke Revisited book series (STROREV)


Subcortical vascular dementia (SVaD) is a type of vascular dementia caused by white matter ischemia and multiple lacunar infarctions in the subcortical area. Unlike other types of vascular dementia, which progress to sudden deterioration, the progression of SVaD is gradual. Therefore, it is often difficult to distinguish SVaD from Alzheimer’s disease in terms of clinical course. SVaD occurs when small vessels develop stenosis or occlusion due to arteriolosclerosis, where hypoperfusion and autoregulatory dysfunction of the microcirculation are important. Selective loss of brain cells is seen as white matter hyperintensities, and necrosis in small areas that represent lacunar infarction. When the burden of small vessel disease is increased, prefrontal-subcortical and thalamocortical circuits are interrupted, and this induces cognitive impairment. Patients with SVaD show cognitive function deterioration, which is predominantly due to frontal dysfunction, but also show noncognitive symptoms such as gait disturbances, mood and behavior disorders, loss of sphincter control, and pseudobulbar palsy. To diagnose SVaD, clinical symptoms and brain imaging findings are used. For treatment, clinicians work to reduce the vascular risk factors and prescribe agents for Alzheimer’s disease and antiplatelet agents as well. Recent developments in positron emission tomography (PET) have enabled amyloid measurement in vivo, making it possible to identify amyloid deposits in patients with SVaD. SVaD patients with amyloid deposition show more rapid disease progression.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yeo Jin Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurologyChuncheon Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of MedicineChuncheon-siSouth Korea

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