White matter changes: the clinical consequences in the aging population
Neuroimaging changes in the cerebral subcortical white matter (WMC) are recognized with the highest frequency in elderly subjects, particularly in those with vascular risk factors. WMC have been consistently reported to be associated with global or selective cognitive deficits, depression, motor and gait impairment. All these deficits are main contributors to disability in the elderly. Moreover, subjects with WMC have an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death from vascular causes. Functional status in subjects with WMC is variable, from normal to severely (physically or cognitively) disable. The association of WMC with age and with some of the clinical manifestations of aging suggests that WMC could be one of the age-related processes involved in the transition to disability in the elderly. Large cohorts of patients with WMC of different severity and detailed follow-up observation may help elucidating this issue. If WMC are shown to have an impact on disability in the aged population, efforts could be made to prevent WMC and WMC-related motor and cognitive deficits, and to identify measures aimed to halt or slow their progression.
KeywordsWhite Matter White Matter Lesion Vascular Risk Factor White Matter Hyperintensities White Matter Change
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