In the present study, we examined the relationships between whole brain volume (WBV), subcortical hyperintensities (SH), indices of cardiac disease and cognitive function in nondemented cardiac patients with evidence of mild cerebrovascular disease. A total of 27 individuals with evidence of cardiac disease underwent neuropsychological examination, neuroimaging, and cardiac assessment. Cognition was assessed with the Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS). WBV and SH were quantified using a semi-automated thresholding program based on MRI. Correlational analyses revealed that WBV predicted performance on the overall DRS score, the attention subscale and the initiation/perseveration scale. SH were significantly associated with performance on the attention subscale, and the initiation/perseveration subscale. Regression analyses revealed that SH accounted for most of the variance in the initiation/perseveration scale, whereas WBV accounted for most of the variance in the attention scale. The only cardiac structural or functional variable related to the neurological indices was aortic diameter, which was strongly related to both neuroimaging variables, as well as performances on the DRS attention and initiation/perseveration subscales. Our results highlight the importance of overall brain parenchyma in determining cognitive status among patients at risk for cognitive decline and suggest that select indices of structural cardiac morphology may be related to the early phases of cerebrovascular disease and cognitive status.
Copyright (c) 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel.