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Brain atrophy in hypertension: A volumetric magnetic resonance imaging study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Judith A. Salerno, Declan Murphy, Barry Horwitz, Charles DeCarli, James V. Haxby, Stanley I. Rapoport, Mark B. Schapiro

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-348
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1992

King's Authors


To determine whether hypertension, the predominant risk factor for stroke and vascular dementia, is associated with brain atrophy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were performed to quantify brain volumes and cerebrospinal fluid spaces. Eighteen otherwise healthy, cognitively normal older hypertensive men (mean±SD age, 69±8 years, duration of hypertension 10-35 years) and 17 age-matched healthy, normotensive male control subjects were studied in a cross-sectional design. Axial proton-density image slices were analyzed using region-of-interest and segmentation analyses. The hypertensive subjects had significantly larger mean volumes of the right and left lateral ventricles (p<0.05, both absolute volume and volume normalized to intracranial volume) and a significantly smaller normalized mean left hemisphere brain volume (p<0.05) with a trend toward significance for a smaller normalized mean right hemisphere volume (p<0.09). Four hypertensive subjects and one healthy control subject were found to have severe periventricular hyperintensities on T2-weighted MRI images. When data for these subjects were removed from the analyses, the normalized lateral ventricle volumes remained significantly larger in the hypertensive group. Lateral ventricle enlargement was not related to age or use of diuretics in the hypertensive group nor to duration of hypertension between 10 and 24 years. Our findings suggest that long-standing hypertension results in structural changes in the brain. Longitudinal studies will determine whether MRI-associated changes are progressive and if such changes identify hypertensive subjects at increased risk for clinically apparent brain dysfunction.

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