CLINICS

Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2017 August; 72(8): 474-480.
doi:10.6061/clinics/2017(08)04

Copyright © 2017 CLINICS

High frequency of silent brain infarcts associated with cognitive deficits in an economically disadvantaged population

Paula Squarzoni I , Jaqueline H. Tamashiro-Duran I , Fabio L.S. Duran I , Claudia C. Leite II , Mauricio Wajngarten III , Marcia Scazufca I , Paulo R. Menezes IV , Paulo A. Lotufo V , Tania C.T.F. Alves I , Geraldo F. Busatto I

Departamento de Psiquiatria, Instituto de Psiquiatria (IPQ), Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

Departamento de Radiologia e Oncologia, Faculdade Medicina FMUSP, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

Instituto do Coracao (InCor), Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

Departamento de Medicina Preventiva, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSP, Universidade of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

Centro de Pesquisa Clinica e Epidemiologica, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSP, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

*Corresponding author. E-mail: geraldo.busatto@hc.fm.usp.br

received February 13, 2017; revised March 14, 2017; accepted April 10, 2017.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Using magnetic resonance imaging, we aimed to assess the presence of silent brain vascular lesions in a sample of apparently healthy elderly individuals who were recruited from an economically disadvantaged urban region (São Paulo, Brazil). We also wished to investigate whether the findings were associated with worse cognitive performance.

METHODS:

A sample of 250 elderly subjects (66-75 years) without dementia or neuropsychiatric disorders were recruited from predefined census sectors of an economically disadvantaged area of Sao Paulo and received structural magnetic resonance imaging scans and cognitive testing. A high proportion of individuals had very low levels of education (4 years or less, n=185; 21 with no formal education).

RESULTS:

The prevalence of at least one silent vascular-related cortical or subcortical lesion was 22.8% (95% confidence interval, 17.7–28.5), and the basal ganglia was the most frequently affected site (63.14% of cases). The subgroup with brain infarcts presented significantly lower levels of education than the subgroup with no brain lesions as well as significantly worse current performance in cognitive test domains, including memory and attention (p<0.002).

CONCLUSIONS:

Silent brain infarcts were present at a substantially high frequency in our elderly sample from an economically disadvantaged urban region and were significantly more prevalent in subjects with lower levels of education. Covert cerebrovascular disease significantly contributes to cognitive deficits, and in the absence of magnetic resonance imaging data, this cognitive impairment may be considered simply related to ageing. Emphatic attention should be paid to potentially deleterious effects of vascular brain lesions in poorly educated elderly individuals from economically disadvantaged environments.

Keywords: Framingham Coronary Heart Disease Risk, Ageing, Educational Level, Cognition, Silent Brain Infarction


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