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White Matter Changes May Predict Cognition Issues

Last Updated: July 14, 2009.

The progression of white matter hypersensitivity is a better predictor of persistent cognitive impairment than baseline white matter hypersensitivity volume, according to a study published in the July 14 issue of Neurology.

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- The progression of white matter hypersensitivity is a better predictor of persistent cognitive impairment than baseline white matter hypersensitivity volume, according to a study published in the July 14 issue of Neurology.

Lisa C. Silbert, M.D., of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues conducted a study of 98 elderly subjects with intact cognition, of whom 49 underwent at least three brain magnetic resonance imaging tests, as well as annual assessments of cognitive and neurological function, until they were diagnosed with persistent cognitive impairment.

There was a higher risk of persistent cognitive impairment with increased progression of total white matter hypersensitivity and periventricular white matter hypersensitivity volume, but there was no association with baseline white matter hypersensitivity volume, the investigators discovered.

"Total and periventricular white matter hypersensitivity progression in cognitively intact elderly individuals confers increased risk of eventual cognitive impairment in relatively healthy elderly individuals," the authors write. "Specifically, every 1 mL/year increase in periventricular white matter hypersensitivity increases risk of persistent cognitive impairment by 94 percent. Identifying those vulnerable to such progression may be important so that those at risk for cognitive decline can be targeted for early intervention and treatment trials."

Authors of the study reported financial relationships with Medicare, commercial insurance companies, Alzheimer's associations and the pharmaceutical industry.

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