Cognitive impairment commonly accompanies clinical syndromes associated with vascular disease of the brain. Because of evolving definitional criteria, however, the frequency of cognitive impairment attributable to cerebrovascular disease is difficult to determine. Dementia occurs in up to one-third of elderly patients with stroke, a subset of whom have Alzheimer's disease (AD) rather than a pure vascular dementia syndrome. In fact, pure vascular dementia has been shown to be uncommon in most large autopsy series. A mixed etiology of AD and cerebrovascular disease is thought to become more common with increasing age, although no clinical criteria for the diagnosis of AD with cerebrovascular disease are currently available. Epidemiological studies have implicated subcortical small-vessel disease as a risk factor for cognitive impairment and dementia, but the cognitive expression and clinical significance of MRI white matter changes in individual patients is difficult to establish. The frequency of specific neuropathologic features of vascular cognitive impairment depends largely on study inclusion criteria. Cerebral meningocortical microangiopathies with distinctive clinicopathological profiles are associated with dementia in both sporadic cases and familial syndromes. In patients with AD, the contribution of amyloid-β protein to the degree of cognitive impairment has not been clearly defined.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience