Is There Equipoise Regarding the Optimal Medical Treatment of Patients with Asymptomatic White Matter Hyperintensities?

Adam de Havenon, Shyam Prabhakaran, Tanya Turan, Rebecca Gottesman, Sharon Yeatts, Natalia Rost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: White matter hyperintensity (WMH) is a common manifestation of chronic ischemic microvascular disease that heralds greater risk of functional disability, stroke, and dementia. SPRINT MIND recently reported that intensive blood pressure reduction resulted in lower rates of mild cognitive impairment and WMH progression, suggesting that medical interventions could have a measurable impact on WMH. We conducted an anonymous survey of providers in the NINDS StrokeNet to better understand neurologist attitudes about asymptomatic WMH. Methods: We sent a 7-question survey to the 29 Regional Coordinating Centers of the StrokeNet, whose coordinators disseminated the survey to providers “involved in the care of a patient after their stroke.” Results: We received 136 responses. For stroke prevention therapies, including aspirin and statin therapy and blood pressure target, there was substantial equipoise, with no single option receiving >50% endorsement and between 15-32% of respondents choosing the option of “not sure.” 83% of respondents indicated high or moderate enthusiasm for a trial targeting this patient population. The clinical outcomes of reduction in ischemic stroke, cognitive impairment, or dementia were high importance (>70% endorsement), while the remaining radiographic, safety, and clinical endpoints all failed to reach 50% endorsement. Conclusions: Our survey establishes meaningful neurologist attitudes that can inform future WMH research. There is considerable equipoise regarding optimal medical treatment for patients with asymptomatic WMH and providers in StrokeNet, who would be a vital stakeholder in WMH research in the United States, enthusiastically support a clinical trial to resolve open questions on optimal medical management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104371
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • White matter hyperintensity—dementia—stroke—blood pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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